Playing for pride and country

Saturday June 23, 2018 Written by Published in Rugby Union
The national squad at a training session earlier this week. The fi nal trial will be held today at 3pm at the BCI Stadium. Entry to the trial is by gold-coin donation. 18062246 The national squad at a training session earlier this week. The fi nal trial will be held today at 3pm at the BCI Stadium. Entry to the trial is by gold-coin donation. 18062246

Pride for the nation and passion for the sport will be among the things national rugby coach Stan Wright will be on the lookout for when he selects his final squad for the Rugby World Cup Qualifiers this afternoon.

The members from the training squad of about 40 players will battle for a spot in the final 23-member squad in the final trial starting at 3pm today at the BCI Stadium in Nikao.

Wright and his coaching team will be eyeing the best players for each position in the team to take on Hong Kong in the qualifying series, which starts on June 30 at the stadium.

He said it’s easy to teach players the techniques of the game but it was hard for the coaching staff to instil the pride and passion for the game and the country.

“That has to come from within. We can teach the rest of the stuff but can’t teach (the passion and pride). The players have to show that,” Wright said.

“They should also have some sort of idea of the game plan or the cores we have been working on this week.”

Wright and his coaching staff, which is comprised of former Kiwi (rugby league) international Kevin Iro, Australian dual international Andrew Walker, and Tupapa Panthers mentor Andrew Iroa, have this week focussed on the game knowledge of the players.

He said they would work on nullifying the strengths of the Hong Kong side in their training sessions next week.

The winner of the two-match series between the Cook Islands and Hong Kong will qualify for the repechage tournament. The winner from the repechage tournament will make it through to the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan.

“For me there is only one match and that’s the one on June 30. I’m not worried about any other match after that so this Saturday is all about putting their best foot forward,” Wright earlier said.

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