Best brains behind rugby team

Wednesday June 20, 2018 Written by Published in Rugby Union
Former Kiwi international Kevin Iro training the backline players in the national squad yesterday. Former Kiwi international Kevin Iro training the backline players in the national squad yesterday.

Some of rugby’s best brains are part of the Cook Islands management team that is preparing the national side for the Rugby World Cup qualifier against Hong Kong later this month.

Led by head coach Stan Wright, the national squad of about 35 players is trained by the likes of former Kiwi (rugby league) international Kevin Iro, Australian dual international Andrew Walker, and Tupapa Panthers mentor Andrew Iroa.

The team is also expecting coaching services from former All Black Nathan Mauger.

Wright said he was fortunate to have their services in the lead up to this crucial encounter against Hong Kong on June 30 at the BCI Stadium.

“To have that calibre of coaches is really awesome. For me it was about getting guys who have been there and done that and know what it feels like to play in such big matches,” Wright said.

“They have the experience behind them and the mana. It’s always good to have someone as experienced as them and I think these guys are happy to pass on that knowledge to the younger generation.”

Wright and his management team have been working on improving the game knowledge of the players this week in the lead up to Saturday’s trial.

The trial will see local and overseas-based players competing for a place in the final 23-member squad.

“This week is all about game knowledge and giving everyone a fair chance on Saturday. Once the players get the game knowledge, they will get the confidence from that,” Wright said.

“Already we have seen some big improvements from yesterday (Monday), which shows everyone is doing their homework.”

Wright said the players in the squad were aware of the importance of the match against Hong Kong and hoped this would drive them to do their best in the trial.

“For me there is only one match and that’s the one on June 30,” he said.

“I’m not worried about any other match after that so this Saturday is all about putting their best foot forward and you can’t really do that if you don’t have the game knowledge.”

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