Following their mandatory two-week quarantine, the Fiji Kaiviti Silktails have thanked the Sofitel Wentworth hotel staff with a “fabulous” gesture on Wednesday.
The 35 athletes and support staff stood on their balconies, singing and clapping in unison to commemorate the hotel staff who ensured their 14-day quarantine in Sydney’s CBD ran smoothly.
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The footage went viral on Thursday after other hotel residents filmed the spectacle from their rooms.
The Silktails will compete in this year’s Ron Massey Cup, a semi-professional rugby league competition based in New South Wales.
The Fijian team was scheduled to take part in their debut Ron Massey Cup last year, but the competition was cancelled after round one due to COVID-19.
“No one really knew what COVID was, so the place was chaotic,” Silktails chief executive Stephen Driscoll told NSWRL.
“The first case (of COVID-19) where we were based was actually a photographer who photographed Wes Naiqama (Silktails Coach).
“We had a really big win the week before which everyone was super excited about, so we had to put that to the back of our mind.
“Once the word came in about suspending the competition, it was disappointing, but we didn’t waste any time once we knew what was happening.”
The Silktails will reside in Australia for seven months, with strict travel restrictions preventing the squad from returning home until October.
The 35-man squad will stay in suburban Mascot unit blocks during their seven-month visit — for some of the players, it marks the first time they have left their home country.
“It’s normally an emotional scene when guys leave Fiji for the first time,” Driscoll told NSWRL.
“That plus the excitement of what we’re going to be a part of made for emotional scenes at the airport.
“We wanted to make sure outside of training they’re living like normal footy players.
“We’ve filled their schedules with devotion sessions, training and online courses to ensure that they can find a routine and help them settle.”
The team is coached by rugby league great Wes Naiqama, who played 120 NRL games for the Dragons, Knights and Panthers.