In his rookie season, Maika Sivo made himself known to the league with 22 tries, including 15 through 11 games at the new Parramatta venue.
Only 12 months ago, Sivo was making an earning laying concrete, and the dream of NRL stardom had merely escaped him. Now, the Fijian-born winger has become a cult hero, captivating fans as he looks toward signing a long-term deal with the Eels.
The 26-year-old arrived on Australian soil just four years prior to his breakout campaign, not expecting to hear his name chanted by the passionate Parramatta fan base all season long.
Sivo confirmed that he won’t be returning to rugby union, the sport he played as a boy, and now he wants to return the favour to the Eels (and the league) with his dominant style of play.
“I still pinch myself the way I’ve played this year,” Sivo told the Sydney Morning Herald.
“I didn’t know if I’d play NRL this year. The coach [Brad Arthur] gave me my chance and I took it with both hands.
“I’m still learning a lot. I can’t wait for the pre-season to rip in. I still have next year and I will let my manager do all the talking with my contract.
“I won’t be going back to rugby. I want to stay in rugby league. I will take my time and think about everything.”
Sivo continues to be likened to former Eel and fellow Fijian winger Semi Radradra, who was one of the most entertaining players in the nation before switching back to rugby union.
In the final round of the NRL season, Sivo collected a hat-trick against Manly, followed by a double one week later in Parramatta’s 58-0 elimination final demolition over the Broncos.
Sivo is expected to be offered a long-term cashed-up deal this summer – the Eels and Sivo’s manager Cameron Phelps are in the process of negotiating a deal that could extend until the end of 2021.