Penrith Panthers forward Viliame Kikau planning something special for decider


Nate Da Barber – the mastermind behind Kikau’s hair, along with that of several other Panthers players, working out of his Jordan Springs garage – is a proud Penrith fan and had lost count of the number of youngsters who wanted to copy the star’s look. He simply refers to the style as “the Kiks”.

Viliame Kikau has raised the bar in terms of haircuts this year, but the giant forward says he’s got something special planned for tonight’s decider.Credit:Janie Barrett

Talk out at Penrith on Saturday night was Kikau had added three narrow strips to the side of his head, which would be coloured green, yellow and red, the same colour pattern as appears on the Panthers jersey.

Coach Ivan Cleary and maybe assistant coach Trent Barrett would be the only people at the club who could challenge Kikau when it comes to hair.

“Dad’s is pretty cool because it’s got the silver through it,” Nathan Cleary said. “Last year didn’t help the [grey] with the stress, but you still can’t beat Kiks.”

Liam Martin is a proud country boy, who still loves a good old-fashioned “No. 2 at the back and on the sides, with a little bit off top”, but even he’s been converted by Kikau’s hair-raising antics.

“I actually walked in with a mohawk one day; the boys loved it, but mum and the missus told me to get rid of it,” Martin said. “I do love Kiks’ hair. When he did it, I approved. You can’t beat it.”

Winger Brian To’o added: “If you were to flick him upside down he would be a mop. I reckon he actually looks like a lion. Nobody says anything to him. He bullies all the boys, him and ‘Fish’ [James Fisher-Harris]. But he definitely suits it.”



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Melbourne Storm v Penrith Panthers, Brandon Smith, North Queensland Cowboys, Viliame Kikau


Brandon Smith is aiming for his first premiership on Sunday when the Storm face off against the Panthers.

What makes it special for Smith is that he’ll be coming up against one of his closest friends when Melbourne aim to see off Penrith.

Panthers back-rower Viliame Kikau and Smith were part of the same Cowboys side on their journey to first grade.

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While North Queensland have gone three years without playing finals football, the nuggety Kiwi couldn’t resist a cheeky sledge at his old club.

“Yeah, the Cowboys messed that up selling both of us!” he told Mark Geyer on Triple M.

“That was a bit of an upset.

“But yeah we are good mates, he (Kikau) was a really good player to play with he scored 26 tries in one season.

“I was the hooker feeding him the tries and it was a pleasure to watch.”

Asked about leaving the Cowboys further, he added: “Yeah, stuff ‘em.”

Smith was otherwise in fine form ahead of Sunday’s clash.

The New Zealand international was praised by Geyer for his playing style, to which Smith replied: “Thank you very much I appreciate it coming from you. It’s an honour, to hear that coming out of your mouth. I kind of replicated my game on you, being a lunatic a bit.”

Geyer laughed: “You know if you’re a lunatic, you might get a job in radio?”

Smith hit back: “Does it pay well? Because there’s not a lot going on upstairs, I don’t think I’ve got a future in footy.”

Smith said he had been enjoying life in the bubble which is set to come to an end come Sunday evening.

“The life I live in Melbourne isn’t too flash,” he added. “It’s always cold there, you want to stay in the warm.

“Being in the bubble I’ve got to hang around the boys a lot. I love being around the boys having fun with my mates, playing cards, video games.

“It’s detrimental for my missus. She never gets to see me.

“When the boys are available I have to go see them, I think I’ve played card six hours a day, p***ed a lot of people off and talked a lot of smack.

“To know what Victoria is going through it’s been pleasurable living on the Sunny Coast. The bubble life has been really good for me.”

Smith also confirmed that his correct nickname was the ‘Block of Cheese’, not the ‘Wombat’.



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NRL 2020: Melbourne Storm v Penrith Panthers, Brandon Smith, North Queensland Cowboys, Viliame Kikau


Brandon Smith is aiming for his first premiership on Sunday when the Storm face off against the Panthers.

What makes it special for Smith is that he’ll be coming up against one of his closest friends when Melbourne aim to see off Penrith.

Panthers back-rower Viliame Kikau and Smith were part of the same Cowboys side on their journey to first grade.

Catch Fox League’s Grand Final Week coverage on Kayo. Stream all the latest news and insight right up until kick off plus halftime and full-time analysis from the Fox League commentary team. New to Kayo? Get your 14-day free trial & start streaming instantly >

Grand Final

While North Queensland have gone three years without playing finals football, the nuggety Kiwi couldn’t resist a cheeky sledge at his old club.



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Penrith Panthers Viliame Kikau relief at returning to face Melbourne Storm


“I walked out that night [from the judiciary] and driving home I was that sad I was going to cry in the car,” Kikau said. “It was tough knowing every game we were going to play was going to be do or die.

“It came to the next day and the boys surprised me. They picked me up and were full of energy, saying ‘we’re going to get you this win and you’ll be back the next week’. That changed my mindset a bit.

When he blew the whistle it was the most relieved I’ve ever been. It was an unbelievable feeling

Viliame Kikau

“I had a chat with the coaches as well and they said, ‘this is the most important time we need you to help the team out with preparation’. That’s all I wanted to do from there. For them to get that win was big.”

Kikau is poised for a mouth-watering match-up against Melbourne’s Felise Kaufusi, who has been a mainstay of the Queensland State of Origin squad for the past two years. Wayne Bennett is expected to include him for this year’s series as well.

Kikau will have no representative rugby league to concern him at the end of the season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and was relieved he has another chance to play again in 2020.

“I was all over the place throughout the game,” Kikau said. “I was up, down … it was crazy.

Viliame Kikau will return from suspension for the grand final.Credit:Getty Images

“When [Adam] Reynolds did the kick and the game was over all the boys next to me were shouting and I was just standing still looking at the referee waiting for him to blow the whistle. I didn’t know if the game had finished or not.

“When he blew the whistle it was the most relieved I’ve ever been. It was an unbelievable feeling.”

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Kikau could be one of 14 Panthers making their first grand final appearance with captain James Tamou, hooker Api Koroisau and bench forward Zane Tetevano having played in deciders with other clubs.

Storm captain Cameron Smith, conversely, will feature in his eighth grand final.

“Something that has stuck with me is our assistant coach Cameron Ciraldo came to me and said, ‘this is a great opportunity’,” Penrith centre Stephen Crichton said.

“A grand final in my first year … I’m so grateful to be a part of this team and do all the hard training with the boys. It’s good to see it paying off. I don’t want to waste this opportunity as it won’t be the same next year with a few boys leaving. Our assistant coach Trent Barrett is leaving.

“I really want to take this opportunity with both hands.”

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Kikau to repay Panthers in NRL grand final


Penrith forward Viliame Kikau spent the past two weeks tearing through his own side, preparing them to beat South Sydney and hoping it would get him to an NRL grand final.

The suspended second-rower was an anxious figure in the stands at ANZ Stadium on Saturday night as the Panthers held on to down the Rabbitohs 20-16.

If they didn’t hold their nerve in the dying minutes while Souths were coming for the win, it would have been season over for the Fiji star who was rubbed out for a dangerous throw in the qualifying final.

A 21-16 win against Melbourne in round six kickstarted the incredible run of 17 wins and Kikau was one of the best on the field that night back in June.

And in a warning for the Storm, Kikau is ready to unleash all of his energy to repay the Panthers with a premiership on Sunday night.

“I was sweating, it was humid but I was sweaty from getting nervous,” he said of Saturday’s preliminary final.

“It was a nerve-wracking game. I was very relieved when the referee blew the whistle.”

Since failing at the NRL judiciary to have his charge overturned, Kikau has been training with the Panthers’ second-string side – the Cougars.

His main job has been charging at the edge defence of Tyrone May and Brent Naden, both of whom were put through their paces in the brutal opposed sessions.

“He doesn’t like me very much at the moment,” Kikau said of May.

“After losing the judiciary thing two weeks ago the coaches told me we can’t do much now and the only thing I could do was help the boys prepare.

“I trained with the other boys who are not in the team and every time we had an opposed session I was just trying to test them out on the right edge.

“I felt down on myself and felt like I had let the team down and I got in the next day the boys were so good, they made me look up again.

“They were like ‘don’t worry just make sure you help us prepare well this week and we’ll get you another game’.

“That’s what I’ve tried to do the whole week.”

Instead of Naden and May, Kikau will be running at Brenko Lee and Suliasi Vunivalu in Sunday’s grand final.

The Storm cruised to a 30-10 win over Canberra in Friday night’s preliminary final at Suncorp Stadium.

It will be the fourth grand final for the Storm in the past five seasons, but the first for star fullback Ryan Papenhuyzen.

“It’s the number one goal of a lot of kids and a goal of mine (to win a premiership),” the Melbourne No.1 said.

“So to get there now, we’ve still got a job to do, but it’s an unbelievable feeling.

“It wont’ be hard to get up and about.

“It’s all come to this point now, we’ve put in the hard work and sacrificed a lot.

“The feeling is good.”





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NRL 2020, Penrith Panthers, finals: Viliame Kikau suspension angers Ben Elias, Geoff Toovey, judiciary


Rugby league legend Ben Elias has lambasted the NRL judiciary’s decision to rub out Panthers star Viliame Kikau from the preliminary finals.

The strike backrower was on Tuesday found guilty of a dangerous throw and suspended for one match — to be served in Penrith’s first preliminary final since 2014.

Speaking on NRL 360 on Wednesday night, Elias said the decision was “unbelievable” and asked for the judiciary to use some “common sense” in the future.

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Semi Final

‘Common sense should prevail’

1:05



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NRL Finals 2020 Penrith Panthers Billy Kikau


Billy Kikau thanks the fans after Friday night’s win.Credit:Getty Images

He was represented by Nick Ghabar, the lawyer with a normally Panthers-like strike-rate at the judiciary, who argued that Waerea-Hargreaves’ determination to find the ground quickly contributed to the ”impression of a lift”. Panthers teammate Jarome Luai’s contribution to the tackle was also ”relatively significant”, said Ghabar.

NRL counsel Peter McGrath showed eight different angles of the tackle and said: “There is a high degree of elevation, more than what we might find in a fair one-on-one driving tackle. He is almost exclusively responsible for this position.

“There’s no attempt to stop that trajectory, causing him to be in a dangerous position.

“He has failed in his duty of care to avoid an injury to the head, neck or spine of the attacking player.”

Ghabar argued: “There was an attempt by Jared Waerea-Hargreaves to find his front as quickly as possible . . . and this creates the impression of a lift rather than an [actual] lift.

It was argued Jared Waerea-Hargreaves' eagerness to get to the ground contributed to the ''impression of a lift''.

It was argued Jared Waerea-Hargreaves’ eagerness to get to the ground contributed to the ”impression of a lift”.

“There was also no unacceptable risk of injury. And Jared Waerea-Hargreaves had a significant ability to protect himself at all times in this tackle.”

Kikau’s suspension is a huge blow for Penrith, who will chase their 17th straight win and the chance to play in their first grand final since 2003.

The Fijian had carry-over points from a dangerous contact charge in round 15 on Cronulla’s Braydon Trindall, which denied him the chance to avoid suspension with any early plea for the Waerea-Hargreaves tackle. The Panthers were happy to roll the dice given Kikau was no chance of being suspended two matches.

Kikau’s combination with Luai and Stephen Crichton on the left edge has been dynamite. Kurt Capewell appears the early favourite to come into the starting side.

Panthers coach Ivan Cleary said of the Kikau incident after Friday night’s win: “He [Waerea-Hargreaves] definitely went past horizontal, but I thought he did enough to get him out of that dangerous position.

Nathan Cleary celebrates the late field goal which all but guaranteed his Panthers a preliminary final spot.

Nathan Cleary celebrates the late field goal which all but guaranteed his Panthers a preliminary final spot.Credit:Getty

“The problem with ‘Kiks’ is he’s so big and he gets discriminated against because he’s so big. Everything he does looks worse.”

Luai added: “I was around that tackle and he [Waerea-Hargreaves] didn’t land on his head. He’s a strike weapon for us. I enjoy playing with big Kiks.”

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Penrith Panthers star Viliame Kikau guilty of dangerous throw, will miss NRL preliminary final


Viliame Kikau has been rubbed out of Penrith’s preliminary final showdown after being found guilty at the NRL judiciary of a dangerous throw.

Kikau and his legal team failed to convince the three-man panel that Jared Waerea-Hargreaves dipped his own body into a tackle in the Panthers’ win over the Sydney Roosters on Friday.

The verdict comes as a blow to Penrith’s hopes of playing in their first grand final in 17 years, given Kikau is the most damaging second-rower in the competition.

He leads all second-rowers for tries, linebreaks, linebreak assists and tackle busts this year, but will now miss their clash with the winner of South Sydney and Parramatta.

In a 42-minute hearing on Tuesday night, Kikau’s lawyer Nick Ghabar also argued that Penrith teammate Jarome Luai had contributed to the end result.

“There was no wrestle in the tackle, but there was an attempt by Waerea-Hargreaves to get to ground as soon as possible,” Ghabar told the panel.

“As he does so he put his left arm on the ground and dives forward, and creates the impression of a lift rather than an actual lift.

“It is Waerea-Hargreaves diving towards the ground that has created this impression.

“Luai drops his own body weight into the equation, so he has contributed to the downward force, further exaggerating the upward motion of Waerea-Hargreaves’ legs.”

Viliame Kikau will be difficult to replace for Penrith.(AAP: Dean Lewins)

Ghabar also claimed that Kikau had managed Waerea-Hargreaves to the ground in a bid to ensure that the Roosters player’s head or neck did not contact the ground.

But it took the three-man judiciary panel of Dallas Johnson, Sean Garlick and Ben Creagh 17 minutes to disagree.

Instead, they believed the NRL’s claims that it had largely been Waerea-Hargreaves’ actions that stopped the tackle from being far worse.

“He [Kikau] is almost exclusively responsible for this position,” NRL counsel Peter McGrath said.

“He has failed in his duty of care to avoid an injury to the head, neck or spine of the attacking player.

“It is as much through the experience and skill of Waerea-Hargreaves to put himself in a position to protect himself, rather than anything Kikau does.”

A Penrith Panthers NRL player makes a hit-up as he is tackled by a Canberra Raiders opponent.
Viliame Kikau is one of the best second-rowers in the NRL.(AAP: Dan Himbrechts)

Kikau could have avoided a ban with an early guilty plea, had it not been for two previous charges this year.

He will now likely be replaced in Penrith’s starting side by Kurt Capewell, with Spencer Leniu the most likely man to come onto the bench.

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Phil Gould erupts, Cameron Smith tackle, ‘disgraceful’, Viliame Kikau


Phil Gould has blown up big time after Viliame Kikau and Cameron Smith were charged with dangerous throws during week one of the finals.

Kikau is in danger of missing Penrith’s preliminary final after being pinged for a tackle on Roosters prop Jared Waerea-Hargreaves during the Panthers’ thrilling 29-28 win over the tri-colours on Friday night.

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Both men were charged with grade one offences, which don’t warrant suspensions on their own, but Kikau is facing a one-match ban because of carry-over points from a previous incident.

One of the most damaging second-rowers in the game, Kikau is fighting to clear his name after being accused of lifting Waerea-Hargreaves above the horizontal.

Sharks legend Paul Gallen believes the Panthers forward is in real danger of being banned, but Channel 9 commentator Gould can’t believe he or Smith have been charged.

“I can’t see why either of them have been charged. This, again, is really pedantic. It’s stupid,” Gould told Nine’s 100% Footy.

“It’s not just that their legs are above the horizontal, it’s got to be most likely that the first point of contact for the man with the ball is going to be head or neck on the ground.

“In neither of those instances could you argue that the first point of contact from the man with the ball was going to be head or neck on the ground. It wasn’t. They were both virtually on the ground.

“We can’t be rubbing people out for that.”

NRL Finals: Week one match centres

RELATED: Storm’s ‘outrageous’ act savaged

Speaking specifically about Smith’s seemingly innocuous tackle on Dylan Brown during Melbourne’s 36-24 win over Parramatta, Gould added: “That’s a disgraceful decision.

“Whoever is in charge of the match review committee, if that’s his example of a throw tackle, then he needs to be rubbed out.

“That is disgraceful that we are charging a player with a dangerous tackle for that tackle there. That is utterly ridiculous.”

If found guilty, Smith will take carry-over points into the Storm’s preliminary final in two weekends’ time, putting him at risk of missing the grand final should he commit another infringement.

Sydney Morning Herald sports writer Andrew Webster told 100% Footy the Storm were “absolutely filthy” Smith was charged.

Gould’s spray comes after fellow Nine analyst and Eels legend Peter Sterling also questioned why Kikau was at risk of missing a crucial finals game for his tackle.

“I’m disappointed you can miss a final for that,” Sterling told Wide World of Sports’ Sterlo’s Wrap. “Yes, he did lift, but I don’t think he got Jared into a particularly dangerous position.

“I understand that there was a case to answer there but I am one of those people who believe that to miss a finals game for that kind of incident, it’s over the top.

“It’s an annual conversation we have but I do tend to think that sometimes our game should look at the importance of matches in regards to the sentence awarded. I don’t think he should miss a final for that tackle.”



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NRL 2020: Viliame Kikau dangerous throw charge, suspension, Penrith Panthers, Preliminary final


League great Peter Sterling is “disappointed” that Panthers star Viliame Kikau could miss the team’s first preliminary final since 2014 due to a suspension.

The 25-year-old star forward will front the judiciary on Tuesday night to fight a dangerous throw charge for a tackle on Jared Waerea-Hargreaves in Friday’s win over the Roosters.

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Semi Final

If he fails, Kikau will cop a one-match ban and will miss next week’s grand final qualifier. He would have received the same punishment even if he took the early guilty plea so it makes sense for the Panthers to fight it.



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