Penrith forward Viliame Kikau believes young gun Sunia Turuva is ready for his NRL debut, declaring his Fiji teammate brings an energy to the Panthers similar to that of Brian To'o.
Turuva had a breakout game at fullback in Fiji's representative round loss to Papua New Guinea, scoring two tries to go with seven tackle breaks and a game-high 252 run metres.
Kikau saw enough in Turuva during Fiji's camp and on game day to deem him ready for a debut with the NRL's short-priced premiership favourites.
"He is (ready). He's a good player," Kikau said.
"He was just as loud as he is here at the Panthers, bringing that energy into camp.
"I knew straight away he was going to have a good game (for Fiji) because the whole week, he looked on."
Kikau said Turuva reminded him of another member of Penrith's backline - State of Origin winger and fan favourite Brian To'o.
"(Turuva) is too lively sometimes. It's annoying," Kikau joked.
"I thought 'Bizza' (To'o) had a lot of energy until he came along and took it to another level."
Contracted until the end of 2024, Turuva will be promoted to Penrith's top 30 squad from next season but is eligible to make his NRL debut this year.
He has been named in the extended squad to face the Sydney Roosters on Friday night but would likely only come into the game-day side to cover for a last-minute injury.
Turuva will struggle to usurp Dylan Edwards as the Panthers' first-choice fullback but could make his debut at centre or on the wing, having started in both positions in NSW Cup this season.
Turuva's fellow Panthers Izack Tago, Taylan May, Charlie Staines and Spencer Leniu made their international debuts for Samoa in representative round.
In total, only one member of Penrith's best 13 for 2022 - Edwards - was not selected for representative round.
"It's always special being able to represent your culture," Tago said.
"To do it with some of the Penrith boys was even better."
At the World Cup later this year, Samoa could be bolstered by even more Panthers; To'o, Jarome Luai and Stephen Crichton are all eligible for Samoa but missed representative round to play State of Origin.
If all chose to play for Samoa rather than Australia, Penrith's outside backline of May, Tago, Crichton and To'o could assemble together on the world stage.
"That would be mad," Tago said.
"I haven't really spoken to them too much but whatever they do, we'd all back them. If they were to play for Samoa, that would be pretty cool."
Australian Associated Press
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