Local players dominate HK 7s team

Monday March 05, 2018 Written by Published in Rugby Union
Coach Vase Samania's national team to HK7s in training mode. 18030221. Coach Vase Samania's national team to HK7s in training mode. 18030221.

Rarotonga-based players dominate the national Sevens team to the Hong Kong 7s in April this year.


Coach Vase Samania named a 12-member team, of which nine are local-based and the remaining three from New Zealand.

In the forwards, he named Teina Savage (Tupapa), Patella Tou (Arorangi), James Kora (Tupapa), Teu Paerau (Aitutaki), Mata Matapakia (Tupapa) and Franco Smith (Arorangi).

Captain Stephen Willis of Arorangi will lead the halves, alongside Junior Napara (Mangere East Hawks) and Jason Potoru (Tupapa).

The backline will have Longo Leuta (Titikaveka), Junior Kiria (Papatoetoe) and James Iopu Johnston (Papatoetoe).

Chedyn Mani, Thomas Potoru and Bruce Goldsworthy were included in the non-travelling reserves.

Team manager Simon Iopu said coach Samania selected players who had met specific fitness, behavioural and commitment standards.

“With a nation full of talented, fleet-footed players, it took months to find the few who were committed to the sacrifice, dedication and with a mental strength required to train and play rugby 7s,” Iopu said.

“These players have shown their hunger to represent their families and country by working their tail-ends off and by putting their bodies through the hardest type of training on the planet for the past few months.”

Iopu said the Hong Kong 7s from April 6 and 8 would be the biggest stage any of the local players will play on.

“A performance to make our nation proud will require an absolute commitment to each, trust in our processes, poise, belief and a really smart game plan,” he said.

“We feel this is the team to take us beyond our own capabilities and tick off a few boxes.”

Iopu also thanked the sponsors and supporters who had backed their campaign since the qualifiers last year.

“We would like to thank people and businesses for the amazing support shown to our national team – Ewan Smith and Air Rarotonga, Andrew Chan of Fitness Revolution, Bluesky, Matson, BSP Bank Cook Islands, Auckland 7s coach Tutu Tairea, who trained and prepared our players in Auckland, and Creo Fitness Pukekohe for the equipment and gym access in Auckland.

“We would also like to thank the local support crew making the trip to Hong Kong for the sacrifice. They will link with the local expats of Cook Islanders there and the Matson army of supporters.”

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