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Fiji Bati - mania

Before the Vodafone Fiji Bati arrived in drought stricken Townsville it rained and on Sunday, 15 minutes before the team landed in New Zealand, a 4.8 magnitude earthquake struck near Wellington.

Team media relations manager Petero Civoniceva said it could be a divine sign as the team prepares for a tougher match against New Zealand on Saturday in the Rugby League World Cup quarterfinals.

The Bati did not walk out of arrivals at the Wellington International Airport until after midnight, but it did not dampen the spirits of the many Fijian fans who waited to welcome the team.

"It was an awesome surprise for the team to see the Wellington community. It was pretty humbling and I know it meant a lot to the boys

"We are going to such a big game on Saturday, to know that there will be a lot of Fiji blue in the crowd, it is going to be pretty exciting.

"When we walk out there on Saturday night, we are not only going to do it for everyone in Fiji, but there's going to be a good crowd of Fijian supporters from Wellington to back us all the way.

"We have been blown away by the amount of support and hearing the interest and the support in Fiji makes us realise the great responsibility we have when we put on the white jersey. It's not just for the Fijians back home, but for the Fijians all over the world. They take every run with us, they take every tackle with us, they are there with us all the way."

Meanwhile, Vodafone Fiji Bati players have been promised monetary rewards if they progress and even if they win the 2017 Rugby League World Cup.

FNRL chief executive officer Timoci Naleba said $200,000 had been set aside for the national squad if they win the title.

With 23 players and the team management, each member could pocket about $8000 if they return victorious and $100,000 if they finish second in the tournament.

Naleba said the incentive promise included the quarter-final against New Zealand on Saturday in Wellington.

"For the record, the players are getting $AU150 ($F236.37) commencing today because they have now qualified for the quarter-finals.

"The players got $AUD100 ($FJ157.58) for the pool matches from October 21. The players have been paid for the pool matches and once they qualified, we added some bonus to their daily allowance and if they qualify for the semi-finals, they will get $AU200 ($FJ315.16) per day. -

"There are payouts from the world cup and the sponsors.

"Those money go to the players, according to the agreed percentage. The incentives for the players, if they qualify to play in the semi-finals, a certain percentage of what Vodafone is going to give us is $100,000(US$50,000).

"If they win the final, the players will get certain percentage of the $200,000(US$100,000) which the Vodafone has promised to give us and is in the contact."

Naleba returned home last weekend after watching Fiji's pool matches against USA, Wales and Italy in Australia.

"Team spirit is very high and it is important for us to keep the boys' spirit in good shape. Potter has done a great job with Joe Rabele.

"We anticipated a tough match against Italy and the boys came through. We will have a great game against New Zealand on Saturday."

The Fiji Bati will play New Zealand at 7.30pm on Saturday in Wellington.

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