Former All Blacks Sevens player, Jason Tiatia is back in the country.
He has become the newest member of the coaching staff for the Rugby Academy of Samoa.
Tiatia played for the Canterbury Sevens and the New Zealand Sevens from 1999 to 2004, then for Grenoble (France) and Parma (Italy) between 2004 and 2008.
He hung up his boots and returned to New Zealand where he studied fitness, opening his own fitness studio in Christchurch.
But Tiatia has always wanted to learn more about Samoa. That desire has brought him home.
“Life in Samoa is simple and at the same time, it’s rewarding,” Tiatia told the Samoa Observer.
“Especially when you’re involved with programmes like the rugby academy of Samoa. I know Mo (Mase Mahonri Schwalger) is very passionate about the people he has on board, and I have the same passion for the community.
“I have kids, and they are here also learning about the fa’asamoa and they are learning about how to speak Samoan and they can always get better. And the same with rugby, it can only get better.”
Being a part of a programme that aims to develop rugby in Samoa is something he is really happy about.
“I’m glad to see the happy faces here today, and also the parents and the village are happy. And especially the kids.
“They are getting involved with something that they are good at and hopefully they will be rewarded whether it is long term or short term, the main for them is to learn.”
He also believes that Samoa really needs these kinds of programme to develop rugby in Samoa.
“I think that we all agree that we are behind the hypo with development side.
“But with people like Mo and the team doing this programme, we can head towards moving forward with rugby. And there’s tons of help out there just a matter of whether the rugby union wants it or not. “But there are also other avenues like this where people are coming out of their own time and pockets to develop rugby in Samoa.
“And we are very fortunate to have people like Mo and the team and especially with all the people that he knows, like the ex-All Blacks and other people whom he has connection with who are willing to help him with the work he is doing here in Samoa.”
And why did he join R.A.S?
“I love the concept; it’s about sharing knowledge and sharing the knowledge. I think that’s very important to know that that’s the aim of the programme,” he said.
“I am so happy and overjoyed to be part of this programme and especially here in Savaii.
“It’s my first time seeing it live and in action. It’s humbly at the same time. Some of the kids are doing this for the first time and they are learning these skills for the first time. And teaching them these fundamental skills is rewarding for me. Hopefully they can use it in the near future.”
Tiatia also wants to encourage the aspiring rugby players of Samoa to keep working hard towards their goals.
“God gave us a lot of gifts. I know Pasefika people, particularly Samoans are very talented people and yes you may have the X-factor, but it’s how you use it that matters the most.
“Hard work, honesty and persevere is the main key to a successful career. Keep holding on and never give up because when you see the rewards, you will forget everything you went through trying to get here. It’s the same with education, work and rugby. Use that gift and nurture it.”
While in Samoa, Tiatia said he is also willing to play for the Manu Samoa 7’s if given the chance.
“I’d like to, definitely. I mean if there are opportunities here then why not?
“And again, you just have to take it with both hands, and if they will have me then that’ll be great.
“But if they don’t then I am happy with what I am doing here at R.A.S. we have great young players here and they are just great. I have a great passion for sevens.
“I know the man Gordon Tiejtens is here, so if you are listening Tiejtens, I am ready brother.”