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World Rugby will assist Pacific Island players secure the right environment and rugby contract overseas.
High Performance general manager Peter Horne made the comment after 26 players from the Swire Shipping Fijian Warriors, Tonga A and Samoa A will be involved in the World Rugby Pacific Combine programme this week.
The selection was made after the 2019 World Rugby Pacific Challenge won by the Warriors for the fourth year in a row at the ANZ Stadium, Suva last Saturday.
The Pacific Combine team will be under the watch of former NSW Waratahs head coach Chris Hickey.
The programme started last year which allowed 14 players to secure contracts. One of them was Warriors halfback Frank Lomani who was attached with Super Rugby franchise Melbourne Rebels with airfare, accommodation and travel documents handled by World Rugby.
“The Pacific Island combine concept was born after number of meetings since June, 2016. We have been meeting consistently, we meet two times in a year,” Horne said.
“One of our concepts was the inclusion of Fijian Drua in the Australian National Rugby Championship.
“The combine team itself was to try and get players that are identified from the Pacific Challenge and give them the opportunity to play in the NRC, Mitre 10, Super Rugby or abroad for professional contract.
“By elevating players into high level training environment will accelerate the development growth of that player so he can go on and play whether it’s Flying Fijians, Ikale Tahi or Manu Samoa in preparation for Rugby World Cup,” Horne said.
Horne promised players will be signed into a club which will give a player a friendly environment.
“All the players profile goes into to the World Rugby website. If players don’t pick up a contract directly from the combine team and if a coach in England is looking for a player, I can direct them to the website and have a look at their profiles.
“We saw some interest from Australia, New Zealand and USA where they know the Pacific Island players and their potentials. A lot of these clubs come in contact to try and identify players.
“After this week we know who we can recommend. There will be clubs that want a wing, prop so we can direct these players towards these clubs. In World Rugby we ask the club to sign the non-disclosure agreement that protects the image rights of the players and that data cannot be moved from one club and shared with the others.
“So the idea is that we protect the player’s data that only that club can review and make assessment and have discussions with players,” Horne added.
“We find a club that is friendly, it’s very difficult to go from the islands to foreign clubs which might not have a Pacific community who don’t support you or don’t have family members around.
“We need to create that opportunity because that’s what actually going to give a foothold to players to grow and develop. If a player has Pacific Islanders to support him then he will grow quickly, engage and learn and that’s why we see it’s vital to work with players association in ensuring that those players development off the field.
“We want to make sure they get the right agents so player’s association works with the players, to ensure that they will get right contract.
“We want to go to clubs that are Pacific islands friendly, their community supports the island players, provide mentor and also remuneration,” Horne said.
“When Lomani went to the Rebels we engage with Rebels high performance manager, we provided relocation, flights, visa required to get into the country. It’s difficult for Pacific island players to get working visas, there’s a whole process behind it, sometimes you have to engage immigration lawyers, we. support that.
“We support accommodation and he will be provided salary for the time he was engaged with the club and that will be negotiated with the agent or we have minimum requirement to go through.”
Hickey said: “Great opportunities for the players but with that opportunities come a lot of challenges which they will need to meet this week, physical ones are obvious with their training sessions, nutrition and mental skills.”.
SOURCE: FIJI SUN/PACNEWS
Pacific Islands News Association
Who & What is PINA?
International News Safety Institute (INSI)
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