Rising Pacific talent heads to IRANZ

Rising Pacific talent heads to IRANZ

SIX PACIFIC Island players have for the first time been awarded full scholarships to attend the International Rugby Academy in New Zealand.

The recipients of the Digicel Pacific Scholarships are Samoa’s Pita Semeane and Iosefo Ropeti Lafo, Tonga’s Maleko Latu and Otulea Katoa and Papua New Guinea’s Billy Torea and Christopher Kakah.

All have been identified as players who have the potential to represent their countries at the highest level.

They will attend a three-week course at IRNAZ, where they will receive mentoring from the likes of Sir Graham Henry, Christian Cullen, Aaron Mauger, Craig Dowd and many other internationally-renowned specialist coaches.

“I am pleased that for the first time ever we have Pacific Island-based players who are involved in the program and am grateful to Digicel for making this happen,” says IRANZ managing director Murray Mexted (pictured above, left), who will also mentor the players.

“This initiative is designed to enable these players to return home and pass on their new knowledge and aspiration to play for their country. They will effectively become rugby role models and will help build the game in their home environment.”

Mexted says the course will equip the players with the mental, physical and technical knowledge to help them advance their rugby careers.

“Our high performance course has a balance between practical and theory and is designed to show players what they need to know about themselves and what they need to do to reach their maximum potential.

“They all have different strengths and our goal is to help players refine those areas, giving them the confidence to use those strengths as their point of difference. Naturally, they all have areas we can assist with and we aim to identify those areas and provide them with the means to improve.”

Digicel Pacific commercial director Darren McLean says all six players were selected because they have shown enormous potential on the field.

“We expect that the six selected players will learn from these rugby greats and return equipped with advanced skills and determination to represent their country on the global stage,” he says.

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