Eels star Sivo gets green light for Nines
Eels try-machine Maika Sivo has been formally cleared by the NRL to play in this weekend's NRL Nines and his coach hopes he "lights it up.''
Sivo touched down in Perth on Wednesday night with the Parramatta Nines squad despite facing an indecent assault charge in Fiji.
The NRL last week reserved its decision on whether Sivo would be stood down under its no-fault policy until his case returns to court on February 17.
Under the league's no-fault stand-down policy introduced last year, players facing charges with a maximum jail term of 11 years or more are automatically sidelined.
Watch the 2020 NRL Nines tournament LIVE & On-Demand on KAYO. New to Kayo? Get your 14-day free trial & start streaming instantly >
The 26-year-old was initially charged with indecent annoyance, later upgraded to indecent assault, and also had to apply for a travel ban to be lifted to allow him to fly back to Sydney and train with the Eels. Sivo has pleaded not guilty to the charge.
However, NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg has the discretionary power to allow a player facing less serious offences to continue playing.
The powerful Fijian, who scored 22 tries in his debut season last year, will line-up for the bookies favourites after being given the green light by the governing body.
"I'm obviously pleased (he can play) and I hope he lights it up,'' Eels coach Brad Arthur told The Daily Telegraph.
"Maika has played in the World Nines (with Fiji) and I think it took him eight or nine minutes to get his first touch and when he did get that first touch, he went the length of the field (to score a try).''
The Eels have a strong history of unearthing talent in the Nines with former wingers Semi Radradra and Bevan French using past tournaments in Auckland to announce themselves.
"What happened with Bevan and Semi is we actually played well as a team and they got the rewards on the end of it, so hopefully that's the case again with Maika,'' Arthur said.
"We've done a little bit of training for this week. We want to treat this seriously, anything that we do - we take seriously.
"I think you're at further risk of injury if you don't.''
With Blake Ferguson, Clint Gutherson, Mitch Moses, new recruit Ryan Matterson and Sivo all in Perth, the Eels are $5.50 favourites with the TAB to win the Nines.
"We don't have any second-tier players so we've got a reasonable squad,'' Arthur said.
"We've got a 30-man squad and we can only bring 18 over and then we've only got eight or nine that the high performance staff felt this sort of football wouldn't suit.
"We're obviously going to need a bit of luck.
"But the boys are excited, they've trained hard all pre-season and they're keen to get some footy under their belt.
"I can't wait.''