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When Semi Valemei arrived for training on Wednesday morning, he thought he’d be running against the NRL team as they prepared to take on the Roosters.

Little did he know that when Coach Ricky Stuart called him into his office first thing, he’d be told he’d be making his NRL debut this weekend.

The shy and softly spoken winger from Fiji was congratulated shortly after by the rest of his teammates who found out the news, before hitting the training paddock for the teams Captains run ahead of tomorrow night’s Grand Final rematch.

Valemei completed the session and then jumped straight on his phone to call his sister Loata Wati, who was excited to find out her brother was ready to play his first game on the big stage.

His next call was to Raiders Manager of Careers, Welfare, and Education David Thom, who’s been a big mentor for Semi since he arrived from Fiji and has helped him with the transition from Fiji to Canberra.

Valemei arrived in Canberra in 2018 and was part of the club’s Jersey Flegg team, before being elevated into the top 30 this year. He featured at the NRL Nines in Perth earlier in the year and had been training hard with the squad to get his opportunity.

Acknowledgement of Country

Canberra Raiders respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.