With an Illawarra Coal League premiership already in their keeping, Collegians stars James Storer and Alipate Noilea will now have a shot at the best players on the planet, as part of the Fijian squad to tackle the Rugby League World Cup.
Storer and Noilea will play alongside NRL stars Akuila Uate (Newcastle), Jason Bakuya (Cronulla) and Gerringong junior Tariq Sims (North Queensland) in a side skippered by Queensland and Australian legend Petero Civoniceva.
The team known as ‘‘The Bati’’ will be looking to reach the semi-finals of the tournament as they did in 2008 but will face a difficult task in Group A which features tournament favourites Australia, Sam Burgess-led England and the Ireland Wolfhounds.
Collies official Bruce Prior said the selection was reward for a stellar season for the Dogs.
‘‘I think Jimmy was probably the standout player in the competition for the last six or seven weeks going forward into the semi-finals,’’ Prior said.
‘‘He was certainly one of our best players over that period of time.’’
Prior said Storer’s experience and versatility would make him a valuable asset to the Fijian side.
‘‘He’s a very good player he can play anywhere. He can play nine he can play back row he can play six or seven he’ll be very good in that format as a utility.’’
‘‘He was outstanding in the nine for us this year.’’
Noilea, brought to Wollongong by Storer, enjoyed his first year in Collies colours scoring 12 tries in 16 games to lead the club’s try-scoring tally.
His prolific try-scoring form saw him selected in the Country Championship winning Illawarra side, scoring three tries in three matches, and earned him a NSW Country jersey.
‘‘Alipate came to us this year and he was outstanding,’’ Prior said.
‘‘He’s a very good player, he’s absolute class.
‘‘He got selected in the Illawarra side and he got selected in the Country side to tour South Africa. They flew out last Tuesday but he had to pull out because he made the Fijian side.’’
Prior has no doubt the Collies duo will hold their own in the tournament.
‘‘They’ll acquit themselves well,’’ he said.
‘‘They’re good players and when you put good players around better players they’ll rise to the occasion.’’