Toa Samoa touch base before R.L. World Cup

By Joyetter Luamanu ,

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SHOWING THEIR FEELINGS: Despite the early morning arrival, the Toa Samoa team show their excitement about being in Samoa as they undergo final preparations for the Rugby League World Cup in 10 days time.

SHOWING THEIR FEELINGS: Despite the early morning arrival, the Toa Samoa team show their excitement about being in Samoa as they undergo final preparations for the Rugby League World Cup in 10 days time. (Photo: Ulimasao Fata)

Culture, heritage and who you represent.

A reminder about these things is the reason for the arrival in Samoa of the Toa Samoa squad early yesterday morning.

The team will undergo their final week’s training and preparations for the Rugby League Cup which kicks off in 10 days time.

This is according to Toa Samoa’s Head Coach, Matt Parish in an interview with the Samoa Observer minutes after exiting the terminal. 

“Samoa’s uniqueness is why it is necessary for us to train here, partly because of its good weather which is hot and humid. 

“But equally, it allows the boys to give back to the community,” said Mr Parish.

“It’s important for the players to know where their roots are, their heritage. 

“Also, for some of the boys, this is their first time here,” he said. 

“Some of them were born here, while others, it’s their parents who were born here. 

“But we’ve all got family here and I think it’s a very important part of our team for the players to understand the culture and what it means.” 

The Head Coach also spoke about the upcoming World Cup. 

“Yes we have a lot of challenges up ahead, obviously playing the Kiwis first who are a mighty team.” 

Mr Parish also noted that while New Zealand have many more resources and finance than Toa Samoa, that should not be a hurdle. 

“The World Cup tournament is not about the money; but it’s about the pride and playing your heart out for your team and who you represent,” said Parish. 

“We look forward to the training and of course some down time as well,” he said. 

The Head Coach also commented on their ‘friendly’ match against NSW Country Unders 23’s in Australia who they defeated 40-26. 

“It was a good win, we played well, and we need to be consistent in some areas. This is a great start and we need to build on from there,” he told the Samoa Observer. 

Last week, President of the Samoa Rugby League Association Tagaloa Fa’afouina Su’a announced the Toa Samoa squad and named Frank Pritchard as captain for the tournament which will be played in Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea from October 27 to 2 December.

Pritchard of Vaigaga is obviously happy to be in Samoa. 

“We’re here now, the team is in camp and we have few players missing that have other familial obligations, but it’s time to regroup with the boys.” 

Regarding their friendly match earlier, the skipper said there is still a lot of room for improvement. 

“The second half was challenging we just lost our way a little bit and they scored two easy tries from our mistakes and we have got to be better there. 

“The score line was 40-10 then it ended up blowing up to 40-24 in the last five minutes and we have got to better than that. 

“We cannot afford to give away easy tries,” said Pritchard. 

The skipper agreed with his coach that the trip to Samoa is very necessary. 

“For some of our boys it’s their first time in Samoa and they need to meet the people for whom they are playing and representing out in the world. 

“Some of them are meeting some of their immediate and extended families for the first time and so it’s really good for all of us. 

“We also need this so the players can see firsthand how Samoans rally in supporting their sons who are on the field,” he said. 

“The trip will also be a reminder for all of us in that you cannot take the jersey for granted. 

“There are a lot of players who missed out and didn’t get selected and the boys need to realize that the jersey does not belong to them. 

“It belongs to Samoa and our people and we are just caretakers carrying the name Samoa. All the more reason why we need to give it our all when we get on the field,” said the Toa Samoa Skipper. 

Frank Semu Pritchard is the son of Penisula and Vaitapu Pritchard. 

“My father was born and raised in Vaigaga, they migrated to New Zealand to seek better opportunities. 

“My dad and mum raised eight kids and up until this day, they are both working, always making sure that they are able to provide for us kids. 

“But then, that is how Samoan parents are; they make so many sacrifices for their kids,” said the proud Samoan skipper. 

Thirty three year old Pritchard, who returned to the N.R.L. from the English Super League to join Parramatta, represented New Zealand at the 2013 Cup and has played 27 Tests for the Kiwis and five for Samoa. 

Also included in the team is Canberra Raiders powerhouse Josh Papali’i - the former Australia Kangaroos forward. Papali’i who recently played for the  Kangaroos for this year’s test against the Kiwis will put on the blue jersey for the first time, joining his club’s experienced teammates Joey Leilua and Junior Paulo.

Zane Musgrove, Jazz Tevaga and Jarome Luai are among the new players to  debut for the Toa Samoa World Cup squad with former United States captain in 2013 World Cup Joseph Paulo returning to the team.

Ben Roberts who played for the 2008 and 2013 World Cup for Samoa made a surprising come back to the squad after an outstanding season with runaway Super League, alongside Leeson Ah-Mau, Peter Matautia, Sam Tagataese and Tautau Moga who definitely add further experience and momentum to the squad.

As reported earlier, Toa Samoa will face the New Zealand Kiwis in Auckland on the 28th of this month, Mate Ma’a Tonga in Hamilton on the 4th November and Scotland in Australia on the 11th November.

Coach Matt Parish says he has assembled a strong, experienced squad with the desire to represent Samoa evidenced in the disappointment of several N.R.L. players who missed selection. 

“Despite some players being unavailable because of injuries, we have a squad that will do Samoa proud,” said Parish. 

“It’s a tough group and these boys have lifted their game before when they have put on the Samoan jersey. There is a lot of competitiveness to gain selection. I’m looking forward to seeing what they can do.” 

The President of the Samoa Rugby League Association Tagaloa Fa’afouina Su’a said teamwork would be the focus of the preparations for the squad leading up to the opening game against the Kiwis. 

“Teamwork requires sacrifice upfront and putting the collective needs of the team ahead of any individual.

“There is no ‘I’ in ‘Win’, he reminded the team. 

FEELING THE HEAT: Toa Samoa captain, Frank Semu Pritchard, with cap and water in hand, on arrival at Faleolo Airport.
FEELING THE HEAT: Toa Samoa captain, Frank Semu Pritchard, with cap and water in hand, on arrival at Faleolo Airport.

Culture, heritage and who you represent.

A reminder about these things is the reason for the arrival in Samoa of the Toa Samoa squad early yesterday morning.

The team will undergo their final week’s training and preparations for the Rugby League Cup which kicks off in 10 days time.

This is according to Toa Samoa’s Head Coach, Matt Parish in an interview with the Samoa Observer minutes after exiting the terminal. 

“Samoa’s uniqueness is why it is necessary for us to train here, partly because of its good weather which is hot and humid. 

 “But equally, it allows the boys to give back to the community,” said Mr Parish. 

“It’s important for the players to know where their roots are, their heritage. 

“Also, for some of the boys, this is their first time here,” he said. 

“Some of them were born here, while others, it’s their parents who were born here. 

“But we’ve all got family here and I think it’s a very important part of our team for the players to understand the culture and what it means.” 

The Head Coach also spoke about the upcoming World Cup. 

“Yes we have a lot of challenges up ahead, obviously playing the Kiwis first who are a mighty team.” 

Mr Parish also noted that while New Zealand have many more resources and finance than Toa Samoa, that should not be a hurdle. 

“The World Cup tournament is not about the money; but it’s about the pride and playing your heart out for your team and who you represent,” said Parish. 

“We look forward to the training and of course some down time as well,” he said. 

The Head Coach also commented on their ‘friendly’ match against NSW Country Unders 23’s in Australia who they defeated 40-26. 

“It was a good win, we played well, and we need to be consistent in some areas. This is a great start and we need to build on from there,” he told the Samoa Observer. 

Last week, President of the Samoa Rugby League Association Tagaloa Fa’afouina Su’a announced the Toa Samoa squad and named Frank Pritchard as captain for the tournament which will be played in Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea from October 27 to 2 December.

Pritchard of Vaigaga is obviously happy to be in Samoa. 

“We’re here now, the team is in camp and we have few players missing that have other familial obligations, but it’s time to regroup with the boys.” 

Regarding their friendly match earlier, the skipper said there is still a lot of room for improvement. 

“The second half was challenging we just lost our way a little bit and they scored two easy tries from our mistakes and we have got to be better there. 

“The score line was 40-10 then it ended up blowing up to 40-24 in the last five minutes and we have got to better than that. 

“We cannot afford to give away easy tries,” said Pritchard. 

The skipper agreed with his coach that the trip to Samoa is very necessary. 

“For some of our boys it’s their first time in Samoa and they need to meet the people for whom they are playing and representing out in the world. 

“Some of them are meeting some of their immediate and extended families for the first time and so it’s really good for all of us. 

“We also need this so the players can see firsthand how Samoans rally in supporting their sons who are on the field,” he said. 

“The trip will also be a reminder for all of us in that you cannot take the jersey for granted. 

“There are a lot of players who missed out and didn’t get selected and the boys need to realize that the jersey does not belong to them. 

“It belongs to Samoa and our people and we are just caretakers carrying the name Samoa. All the more reason why we need to give it our all when we get on the field,” said the Toa Samoa Skipper. 

Frank Semu Pritchard is the son of Penisula and Vaitapu Pritchard. 

“My father was born and raised in Vaigaga, they migrated to New Zealand to seek better opportunities. 

“My dad and mum raised eight kids and up until this day, they are both working, always making sure that they are able to provide for us kids. 

“But then, that is how Samoan parents are; they make so many sacrifices for their kids,” said the proud Samoan skipper. 

Thirty three year old Pritchard, who returned to the N.R.L. from the English Super League to join Parramatta, represented New Zealand at the 2013 Cup and has played 27 Tests for the Kiwis and five for Samoa. 

Also included in the team is Canberra Raiders powerhouse Josh Papali’i - the former Australia Kangaroos forward. Papali’i who recently played for the  Kangaroos for this year’s test against the Kiwis will put on the blue jersey for the first time, joining his club’s experienced teammates Joey Leilua and Junior Paulo.

Zane Musgrove, Jazz Tevaga and Jarome Luai are among the new players to  debut for the Toa Samoa World Cup squad with former United States captain in 2013 World Cup Joseph Paulo returning to the team.

Ben Roberts who played for the 2008 and 2013 World Cup for Samoa made a surprising come back to the squad after an outstanding season with runaway Super League, alongside Leeson Ah-Mau, Peter Matautia, Sam Tagataese and Tautau Moga who definitely add further experience and momentum to the squad.

As reported earlier, Toa Samoa will face the New Zealand Kiwis in Auckland on the 28th of this month, Mate Ma’a Tonga in Hamilton on the 4th November and Scotland in Australia on the 11th November.

Coach Matt Parish says he has assembled a strong, experienced squad with the desire to represent Samoa evidenced in the disappointment of several N.R.L. players who missed selection. 

“Despite some players being unavailable because of injuries, we have a squad that will do Samoa proud,” said Parish. 

“It’s a tough group and these boys have lifted their game before when they have put on the Samoan jersey. There is a lot of competitiveness to gain selection. I’m looking forward to seeing what they can do.” 

The President of the Samoa Rugby League Association Tagaloa Fa’afouina Su’a said teamwork would be the focus of the preparations for the squad leading up to the opening game against the Kiwis. 

“Teamwork requires sacrifice upfront and putting the collective needs of the team ahead of any individual.

“There is no ‘I’ in ‘Win’, he reminded the team. 

© Samoa Observer 2016

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