A desire to be the world’s No.1 winger and to give back to his adopted homeland is the motivation behind Semi Radradra’s decision to play for Australia.
Radradra’s move to pledge allegiance to Australia ahead of his native Fiji has caused many to question international rugby league’s eligibility laws and the power of the Kangaroos, with whom representatives earn $25,000 a Test.
But the Parramatta star said ahead of Friday’s Test against New Zealand, that money is not a factor and he has wanted to wear the green and gold ever since moving to Australia three years ago.
“It is a privilege for me, an honour to be here, words can’t express how good I feel to be here,” Radradra told AAP at the Kangaroos’ Coogee base on Monday.
“I am very excited to be playing with these boys and to be in a new environment. It is a great experience for me.
“The first time I came to Australia, all I dreamed of all I wanted to be known as was the best Fijian player, the best winger in the game.
“I want to play at the highest level with all the big names and to show my talent to the world.”
Radradra said he hadn’t upset his fellow Fijians with his move to play for Australia.
“I don’t know about that,” he said.
“My family they are happy, they say it is my decision and they will support me in everything that I do and they give their blessing.
“I am proud to be here and proud to represent Australia.
“Heaps of people dream about wearing that jumper and I am just so happy I have the opportunity to do that.”
Radradra, who has scored 53 tries in 58 games since joining Parramatta in 2013, said money was not his prime motivation.
“It is not about the money, this country has helped me a lot,” he said.
“It is the best country in the world, it has helped so many people, my daughter has grown up here.
“I am privileged to be an Australia resident and this is the first country where I played rugby league.”
Captain Cameron Smith welcomed Radradra into the Kangaroos camp for the first time on Monday.
“He has made his decision based on eligibility and the rules and I am right behind Semi,” Smith said.
“He is the best winger in the competition at the moment, that is putting it simply, so it is great that he is in my team.
“I am the captain of this footy side, it is my job to captain this side not to make the rules.”