Panthers to miss Api, Kikau after grand final win

Viliame Kikau (right) and Apisai Koroisau Picture:

Penrith Panthers coach Ivan Cleary says they will surely miss Viliame Kikau and Apisai Koroisau next season as the two Fiji Bati players head to next clubs next season.

Kikau and Koroisau have been an integral part of Cleary’s starting XIII for the past few seasons and helped the Panthers clinch back-to-back NRL grand final titles.

The side beat the Parramatta Eels 28-14 at the Accor Stadium in Sydney on Sunday night. Kikau, who joined the Panthers in 2017, will join the Canterbury Bulldogs next season after signing a four-year deal.

Koroisau, 29, first joined the Panthers in 2015 and rejoined ‘The Mountain Men’ in 2020. He heads to the Wests Tigers on a two-year deal.

Cleary, who took over the coaching role at the Penrith in 2019, said Kikau and Koroisau were a big part of club.

“It’s really sad. I love those guys and when you do the things together over the last few years, it makes it even more special,” Cleary said in a post-match interview.

“I’m not gonna try and think about it too much. It’s a lot of talent, good people leaving so we better just enjoy the next few days.”

Cleary spoke highly of Koroisau and said he would be hard to replace. “When Api comes on (to the field) he makes people feel good and everyone plays better. He’s had an incredible season. We won’t be able to replace him.”

The team’s co-captain Isaah Yeo said he was happy that Kikau and Koroisau were moving for the betterment of their future.

“It was similar last year when we lost Matt Burton and Kurt Capewell that spring to mind. This year it’s Billy and Api and they’ve been such an integral part to our side,” Yeo said.

“I guess on the back of success you get off to a bigger contract and can take our family up. We wanted to make sure it was a good send off to them and it was.”

Meanwhile, Kikau will head to England to join the Fiji Bati for the Rugby League World Cup.

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