A veteran of the game and a fan favourite among many of the teams he has played for, current Penrith Panthers utility back Wes Naiqama will depart the club at season’s end, signing a 2-year deal with the London Broncos.
With the move subject to a work visa, the NRL and Fijian veteran will embark on a new challenge with a side that is looking to return to the Super League.
Prior to joining the Panthers, Naiqama was also a part of the St George Illawarra Dragons and Newcastle Knights, as well as playing in 13 games for Fiji throughout his career.
For the club, coach Joey Grima is pleased to have the veteran on board and after speaking with a number of people across the globe, they all had only good things to say about Naiqama.
“Over the last four-to-five weeks I’ve been doing my due diligence on Wes and I’ve spoken to some high profile people in the world of rugby league, including players from Penrith and they all have a huge amount of respect for Wes,” said Grima.
“He’s holds a senior player role and was part of the Fiji leadership team and he’s the type of person we are attracting.”
“I’m really pleased that the environment and the culture that we’re creating at the club is attracting good players from Super League, the Championships and the NRL. I’m proud that people are buying into what we’re doing.”
For Naiqama, the new challenge is one that he looks forward to, highlighting that it was always a goal of his to play rugby league in the United Kingdom at some point.
“I’m very happy with my decision to sign with the club,” he said.
“It was always a goal of mine from early in my career to some stage play in the UK at some stage. Thanks to Joey I’ve been given this opportunity, and I can’t wait to get over, meet my new coach, staff, team mates and supporters and start preparing for exciting times ahead.”
“I got to chat to Joey and his enthusiasm and energy is definitely infectious. He has a great vision for the club going forward and I’m very excited about being a part of the culture and development he is creating there.
“I’m coming over with my partner Jessica and can’t wait to experience the culture and live in that beautiful city.”
Knowing that the club was relegated, Naiqama hopes to be a part of a successful season and resurgence to get them back into the Super League.
“I’m looking forward to the challenge of helping London win promotion. It’s unfortunate the club got relegated this year, but I feel the current squad will be better for the experience and will be hungrier than ever for it,” said Naiqama.