The tragic prelude to Fiji's World Cup heroics

Kevin Naiqama's tears of joy after Fiji upset New Zealand at the World Cup would have been tinged with sadness following the death of his biggest fan.

The Fijian skipper broke down in an emotional post-match interview after leading his side to a stunning 4-2 victory over the tournament heavyweight Kiwis on Saturday.

But a heartbreaking prelude to the match has since been revealed.

Danielle Mason, a massive Wests Tigers fan and even bigger Kevin Naiqama fan, lost her battle with cancer last Tuesday, five days before Fiji's remarkable win.

Naiqama melted hearts at Leichhardt Oval in August when he gave his game-worn jersey to the 19-year-old after a game against Manly, which you can see above.

He had organised eight tickets for Danielle and her family to attend the game after meeting her in hospital.

Kevin and Danielle. Image: Facebook
Kevin and Danielle. Image: Facebook

“She got a day pass out of hospital and I told her I would come and see her after the game, and the least I could do was give her my jersey and give her a hug," Naiqama said at the time.

She was first diagnosed with B Cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia and Central Nervous System Cancer in 2015, and looked to have beaten it until being told the cancer had returned in January this year.

"After a long 11 months Danielle's fight sadly came to an end leaving her family, friends and the community of Forbes shattered," a GoFundMe page set up to raise money for her funeral says.

Danielle had been in close contact with Naiqama during her battle, posting a number of photos on social media with her hero, praising him for his support.

Naiqama, who regularly tears up during the Fijian national anthem, would have been heartbroken by the sad news, making his starring performance on Saturday even more special.

"They are tears of joy. All that emotion comes out when the anthem starts because we don’t get to play many Test matches for Fiji," he told The Player's Voice before the game.

Naiqama's tears during the anthem. Image: Getty
Naiqama's tears during the anthem. Image: Getty

"I think about my family, my friends, the players I’m doing this with.

"Those thoughts flood my mind and it’s all over. The tears just flow.

"To play for our country, our ancestors, the players who have worn this jersey before, it’s the best feeling you can have in football.

"We have created something special here and I’m not the only one who’s crying. The other boys are, too."

To support the Mason family head to the GoFundMe page.