Sisa Waqa, pictured here playing for the Melbourne Storm, is set to join the Raiders. Photo: Getty Images.
The Canberra Raiders have signed Melbourne Storm winger Sisa Waqa for two years, but had fate not intervened he could be playing with fellow 'flying Fijian' and former schoolmate Henry Speight at ACT Brumbies.
In 2008, the Brumbies were interested in signing him, but foreign player roster rules scuppered the deal as he had earned one cap for Fiji as a 17-year-old.
Waqa was at the Brumbies for a week, but once the club learnt of his ineligibility he finished the year in Sydney club rugby, before crossing to rugby league with Sydney Roosters the following season.
Fast forward six years and the 28-year-old has finally arrived in Canberra with the Raiders.
Rather than emulate Speight, who will be eligible for the Wallabies in September, Raiders fans are hopeful he can follow in the footsteps of former Fijian try-scoring machine Noa Nadruku.
Speight revealed on Monday he and Waqa have known each other since they were teenagers.
"I know him from secondary school in Fiji growing up, we bump into each other every now and then,'' Speight said.
"I don't know him too much, but we say hello and have a chat.
''It'll be good to know another Fijian in the other team [Raiders] representing the province.
''We have Tevita [Kuridrani, Brumbies centre] and the Raiders had Noa Nadruku, it's good to have another Fijian.
''I think [he can have a big impact]. I've seen a few of his games and the other Fijian boys in the NRL.''
Waqa was contracted to Storm until the end of 2015, but was granted a release to join the Green Machine.
Ironically, he scored a try in Melbourne's 28-14 win over Canberra last week, which effectively ended their semi-final hopes.
The Raiders have been on the hunt for outside backs since their failed pursuit of James Tedesco and Josh Mansour.
The 28-year-old is coach Ricky Stuart's first major signing as he attempts to rebuild the struggling club's roster for next year.
Melbourne Storm football manager Frank Ponissi said the club was disappointed to see Waqa leave.
"We're very sorry to lose Sisa, he's a really popular and valued member of the team, but we understand his reasoning,'' Ponissi said.
"We could have been selfish and dug our heels in and said he has to wait until the end of next year, but I don't think that's fair on the player or his young family.
"He spoke at the team meeting [on Monday] and said he wants to leave the club on the highest note, the Raiders have been very respectful through the whole deal.
"Sisa has been playing with a few injuries and is only just shaking them off. With this hanging over his head it's always a difficult time to play footy.''
Waqa's manager George Christodoulou said the Raiders view him as a potential mentor for their young outside backs.
"At 28, he's in the prime of his career and Ricky will know he'll come and mentor the juniors they've got coming through,'' Christodoulou said.
"He's everything Ricky was looking for - good under the high ball, good coming out of territory, experienced and defensively probably the best winger in the NRL.''
Waqa has scored 36 tries in 66 NRL games and his acquisition throws more uncertainty over the future of incumbent winger Reece Robinson, who is off contract at the end of the season.
Speculation had swirled Waqa would join Canberra as part of a player swap, with Robinson heading to Melbourne.
Ponissi doused those rumours, pointing to an exciting bunch of youngsters coming through, such as Cameron Munster.
"It won't be happening. I think he's a wonderful player Reece, but we're OK there,'' Ponissi said.
"We've got a couple of young players coming through, it would only be blocking the road of some young blokes.''