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Semi's sacrifice

The repercussions of COVID-19 have been felt significantly around the world but for Canberra Raiders winger Semi Valemei, its impact has been felt even more.

The young Fijian winger became a dad in September last year, but Valemei still hasn’t had the chance to meet his daughter Rosi and isn’t sure when he’ll get the chance too.

“I haven’t seen her since she was born,” Valemei said. “Yeah, it’s pretty hard.

“At the moment, I’m not sure [when I’ll get to see her] because there’s so many COVID cases over there. Hopefully, at the end of the year.”

Semi had his daughter's name on his strapping when she born during the 2020 season
Semi had his daughter's name on his strapping when she born during the 2020 season

Thankfully, with Valemei’s family and friends living in the remote village of Navidamu, there haven’t been concerns of them catching the virus and they were all able to watch him make his first appearance of the 2021 season.

During Valemei’s breakout season in which he was named the club’s Rookie of the Year, his family and friends would climb a mountain to get service on a mobile phone and would huddle around it to watch Semi play.

This year, Semi’s made it a lot easier for them.

“I bought them a TV and now they can just watch them from home,” Valemei said. “It’s a Sky Sports card and now they can watch it from home.

“I sent them two boxes of Raiders gear last year so now they’re pretty happy.”

Semi’s sacrifice has paid dividends and the Fijian winger was rewarded with his first NRL appearance of 2021.

Filling in for the injured Jordan Rapana, Valemei made his own successful return from a hamstring injury with devastating effect.

The winger ran for 120 running meters and made six tackle breaks as he gave the Bulldogs’ defence a torrid time.

“Yeah, it felt pretty good to be finally back into the side after being out for three or four weeks with injury,” Valemei said. “The boys gave me feedback from training throughout the week, so it feels so good to get back out there and get the win.”

After tasting victory last weekend, Valemei will be looking for a positive result against the Melbourne Storm with his friends, family and eight-month-old daughter Rosi watching on from back home.