Boom recruit Vilikesa Raboiliku confident Wests can break sixteen-year drought
After more than a decade and a half away from the Grand Final, Wests’ Vilikesa Raboiliku believes the whole club is ready to claim another premiership against UQ at Suncorp Stadium.
“For the club, I think last time we won was 2006 and this whole week has been family, members and old boys coming to training to watch us,” Raboiliku told Rugby News.
“We set some goals at the start of the year to reach the final but we never really got too focused on that.”
The Bulldog’s inside centre has been a revelation since making the move from Norths last season.
In just his second season of premier grade football, Raboiliku has proven a major asset throughout Wests’ minor premiership winning season.
“Coming from Norths and straight into the final the next year has been so exciting.”
“The culture and peopled around it are really different, it’s very family orientated.”
Wests’ hulking inside centre has been through his share of adversity during his short career.
Qualifying for the Grand Final has given Raboiliku a moment to reflect on how far he’s come in just one season.
“To be honest, I was supposed to give up rugby this year because of injuries.”
“I talked to Elwee in the off-season last year and he told me that he would get me into the best shape of my career.
“All these years I’ve been playing rugby, I think I’ve gathered that all up and been playing good footy with the boys.”
The No.12 has starred with Wests despite carrying a cracked scaphoid into every game.
After hyper-extending his knee and consistently requiring rehab on various issues, Raboiliku has finally found some continuity in his body this year.
“I think it’s just the management, Seth the physio really takes care of me and I think that’s what’s kept me going, the management I’ve been getting from the club.”
This weekend’s Grand Final is the culmination of a fantastic season for Raboiliku and his club alike.
The Bulldog’s brilliant semi-final victory against UQ won’t count for much this weekend when it all goes on the line, according to Wests’ powerful back.
“They’re not new to the final’s arena, they’ve been there a few times.”
“I think it will be a whole different game from the semi-final.
“It’s all about attitude this week and discipline, that will win us the game and our defence.”
Holding the premiership aloft would be a great reward for everyone who has battled at the club for the last sixteen years.
Wests have embraced their wider support network not only this week but through the whole season.
“We had a family and sponsors dinner last night, everyone just getting together to support us this Sunday.”
“Even though we get some Super Rugby players in some weeks I love everyone in the club, even the coaching staff.”
Elwee Prinlsoo, the leader of that coaching staff, has been a transformational figure in Raboiliku’s rugby journey.
“He’s really direct to be honest. If he doesn’t like something he’ll tell you face-to-face which I like.”
“He’s family orientated, through the season he had partner and family dinners.
“It’s different from other coaches I played for and he’s built a bond within the team that’s unbreakable.”
That unbreakable bond will be put to it’s greatest test this Sunday as Raboiliku and his teammates strive for the 2022 Hospital Cup premiership.