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Sword brothers share expertise with aspiring sporting stars

Friday 21 June 2024 | Written by Melina Etches | Published in League, Rugby Union, Sports

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Sword brothers share expertise with aspiring sporting stars
The Sword brothers, Larzla and Izi, professional rugby players in Tokyo, Japan, make time to attend a casual training run with Nukutere College students organised by Ben Koteka from Cook Islands Rugby Union. Their Aunty Jessie Sword also attended the training session. MELINA ETCHES/24062016

Cook Islands brothers, home for a break from the international rugby scene in Japan, are sharing their expertise and inspiring the next generation of sports stars.

For the past couple of years, Izi John Teariki Sword, 23, and his younger brother, Larzla Tutai Purea George Sword, 21, have been carving a niche for themselves in Japan’s professional rugby league competition.

Izi plays for the Kubota Spears and Larzla for the Black Rams Tokyo (formerly Ricoh Black Rams) in the Japan Rugby League One competition.

This week, the Sword brothers connected with Nukutere College students for some light rugby session organised by Ben Koteka, the Cook Islands Rugby Union (CIRU) development manager.

“It was good, it was fun and the kids appeared to love it,” said Izi. “At their young age, it’s more about getting the kids to enjoy the game, enjoy sports.”

“You want them to grow a passion for sports while they are young and you want them to sort of figure it out for themselves.”

Izi shares that breaking into the professional scene requires good attributes like commitment, determination and in particular, passion.

“You’ve got to enjoy it, have passion for it and you’ve got to enjoy doing the hard stuff to achieve what you want to do.”

He shared advice from a scout who had said “If you get the basics right, the fundamentals like passing, tackling, rucking… if you can do your job and do your job well that’s all you need for a strong foundation – your skills and doing your job well”.

Larzla reiterated his brother’s advice and added that fitness is also key.

“Even on holiday we get our training done in the morning so we can do things we want,” he said.

“And our family support is really good, we call our parents (Leslie Sword and Christina ‘Tina’ Sword nee Tura) almost every week.”

Both brothers attended the Anglican Church Grammer School in Brisbane, Australia.

From there, Izi moved to Tokyo, Japan, to attend university for four years, becoming quite fluent in Japanese. He then immediately embarked on his professional rugby league career.

His toughest challenge was keeping motivated.

“I had to keep striving to get better, setting goals and I had to really put my mind to it,” he said.

Larzla began his sporting career also in Tokyo, Japan, but straight out of Grammer School.

He said it was pretty tough moving to a new country straightaway.

“But my dream was to be a rugby player so I had to keep focused. I was lucky enough to get a contract straight out of school, and my brother was there which helped a lot,” said Larzla.

The Sword brothers last visited Rarotonga some five years ago and are thrilled to be back to reconnect with their family.

Arriving earlier this month, they spent a few days in Mauke with their maternal grandfather, Tai Tura, Speaker of the Parliament, and helped out in the pai taro and enjoyed swimming in the caves.

“It’s wonderful coming home here and in Mauke. Just having freedom, especially from living in Tokyo, a city of six million people, it can get scary,” said Izi.

“You come home, you come to Mauke and you know people and it’s very humbling.”