Wednesday 29 January 2014 | Published in Regional
A national squad will be selected in late April, with 30 players to be chosen and moved to a camp in mid-June.
The one-off test game against Fiji in Suva is a Rugby World Cup Qualifier match which has inspired the campaign slogan of – ‘One Win – One Dream’.
Two warm-up matches before the Fiji tour will take place, with one confirmed for Wednesday June 18 against the Auckland Blues development squad and another still to be confirmed before the squad gets smaller and 25 players will be taken to Fiji for a week before the one-off test on Saturday June 28.
Before the final team selection, we begin the ‘One Win – One Dream’ campaign by introducing the management team tasked with preparing and guiding the players.
The 15s squad is led by head coach Barry George, assistant coach Brent Semmons, manager Cam Kilgour assistant manager Nooroa Tokahere and physio Cam Simmiss.
Today were share a few words from assistant coach Brent Semmons.
Can you give us a brief overview of your coaching experience over the last few years?
For the last 10 years I have been teaching at Kelston Boys High School as director of sport and head of department Sports Academy.
In regards to rugby and the school I coach the Under 14s, which is year 9 new entry students, so that they are prepared and made to understand the school’s history and its high level of commitment and standards required to become a member of the school’s 1st XV. I also coach the rugby 7s team which has won an unprecedented four national secondary schools titles.
My other rugby commitments are with the Massey rugby premier team who won the 2013 North Harbour championship in 2013. With the school under 14 team at 9am and the premiers’ playing at 2:45pm each Saturday, as you can imagine it keeps me out of trouble. After the club and school seasons are complete my commitments move to representative rugby where I have coached the North Harbour under 20s for the last four years finishing 3rd in 2010, 3rd in 2011, 1st in 2012 and 2nd in 2013 but with a first-time victory for Harbour over Canterbury under 21s in 2013.
Do you have any connections to the Cook Islands or Cook Islands Rugby in the past?
My wife Louisa (nee Vaetoru) is of Cook Island heritage – her father Paul (Kuki) hales from Manihiki/Rakahanga.
I played regularly in the Cook Islands field rugby days and played for West Auckland Cooks and also for Raka in Rarotonga in the 80s while on holiday there with my wife and her family. In the 1990s I coached a Cook Islands men’s touch team in the first-ever World Cup touch tournament held at Avondale racecourse in Auckland.
What made you want to take on this role?
With my obvious connections with the Cook Islands, when I heard the position was available I contacted head coach Barry George to apply for the role. We had worked together previously at Auckland rugby and I know he is someone of high standards and rugby knowledge, so it was a no brainer to get on board.
Do the Cook Islands have the players to beat Fiji?
We (management) are circling the globe and leaving no stone unturned to ensure we have the best available talent on board to ensure that we’ll get a good result.
This is a big year for Cook Islands Rugby and the test match against Fiji is a huge opportunity to get to the 2015 RWC in England – what do we have to do to beat Fiji?
The first things are already being done. Barry George is assembling a very good management team headed by Cam Kilgour and planning is and will be meticulous. So planning plus selection equals results.
As I’ve already stated we’ve worked together previously, but he is a very humble man that is player-sensitive in his approach. I have no doubt he is the right man for this role and I am really excited to be working with him and the incredible opportunity ahead of us all.