Fiji Bati forward Tui Kamikamica hasn’t forgotten the day his visa was about to expire 15 years ago.
The 27-year-old will come off the bench tomorrow for Melbourne in the NRL semi-final against Penrith and hopes to help the defending champions to yet another grand final.
It was the 2016 pre-season and his visa was due to expire in the second week of February.
Speaking to nrl.com, Kamikamica says he could only be on a working visa to start with to stay in Australia, and when that was up it meant he needed a sports visa to stay.
He was training hard with the Falcons club and they had a trial game before the Storm played against the Warriors at Sunny Coast Stadium.
Kamikamica recalls thinking Storm Coach Craig Bellamy was coming to the match and it was his chance to prove himself.
Bellamy told him after the game to keep going and Kamikamica says he had about a week to go on his visa.
The former QVS student says he played on a Saturday and his visa was expiring on Thursday of the following week and he was thinking he only had four or five days to go.
However, Bellamy liked what he saw and Kamikamica went to the courthouse the next week and wrangled a final three months to stay in the country.
Kamikamica says he remembers that was it and he was told no more extensions, if it doesn’t happen he had to go home.
He adds the first six rounds of the season he didn’t know what was going to happen and he was picked to make his Bati debut on the Saturday in May which was a really proud day before getting a call from his manager three days later informing him he would be an NRL player which meant he could stay in the country.
Kamikamica has been a permanent resident and regular member of Melbourne’s top 17 since 2019 and he plans to begin his Australian citizenship application next year, ideally with a grand final ring on his finger.
Tomorrow, Kamikamica’s Storm will take on Viliame Kikau and Apisai Koroisau’s Panthers at 6pm and you can watch this match live on FBC Sports on the Walesi platform.
Tonight the Rabbitohs meet the Sea Eagles at 9.50pm.