Lack of local interest a worry

Wednesday June 14, 2017 Written by Published in League

Out of the 52 players who were registered from the five teams that took part in the opening round of the Steinlager Sevens last weekend, 31 were foreigners residing in Rarotonga.

 

And this figure is worrying the national Sevens coach Vase Samania who is concerned about the makeup of the future national team.

The foreign players were dominated by Fijians and Samoans who ply their trade in the Cook Islands.

Whilst some of them are eligible to play for the Cook Islands, Samania is concerned with the lack of interest from the local players.

Avatiu Eels, Arorangi Cowboys, Titikaveka Bulls, Ngatangiia/Matavera Dragons and TKV (Takuvaine) Reds competed in the preliminary round of the opening union competition on Saturday at the Happy Valley Field.

“The turnout of the local players was very poor. If you look at most of the teams, they were dominated by Samoans and Fijians, we didn’t have many local players in there,” said Samania, the former national skipper.

“We are looking at the composition of the Cook Islands team and we need a competitive field of local players to choose the team from.”

Samania admits while some players may be still recovering from the league season, the onus was on the younger generation to step up and take on the Sevens challenge.

He raised his concerns on the commitment of the young local players who are being earmarked for future national teams.

“There are also some senior players who have been in the squad before and represented the country in the past tournaments but didn’t turn up on Saturday,” Samania said.

“They should be leading by example. They are senior players and they are role models to the younger ones. We need them to get themselves more involved so we have a good pool of players to select the national team from.

“There are some who have genuine reasons like nursing injuries from the league games but other than that, there shouldn’t be any other reason why they are not participating in the Steinlager Sevens.”

Samania said he would be releasing the national training squad for the Oceania Championship in the coming days to ensure an early start to their preparation.

A number of international tournament spots will be available at the Oceania Champs which will be held in November in Fiji.

“I have some players in my mind who I spotted at the league competition and they will be named in the training squad for the upcoming tournament.

“Since this is one busy year for Cook Islands rugby with the World Cup qualifiers in August, we have to work together to ensure we have a good pool of injury free players for Sevens and XVs.”

The opening Steinlager Sevens tournament will end this Saturday with the finals.

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