It's all about the players, says former Manu Samoa Taulafo
Former Manu Samoa prop, Sakaria Taulafo, believes that in top-level rugby, nothing is more important than the players.
The 36-year-old played for the A’ana Chiefs in this year’s Super 9 season, returning home after over 15 years playing professionally in New Zealand, England and France.
He said while each country he has played in is a little different, across the board the players are always held up as the most important thing in rugby.
Taulafo said he has picked up on that attitude as well, although it may be slightly at odds with the fa’a-Samoa, how people have to follow their elders and the matai.
“Once we are too heavy on that, and forget about the team, it will never succeed.
“We can tell the boys, be on time, and this and that.
“But if the management are not on time as well, or there is something missing, it’s never going to work.”
Taulafo said his time with the Chiefs has given him a look at how the local rugby scene operates.
“The thing with the local boys, they want to say something, but because of the fa’a-Samoa they are holding back, they can’t speak out.
“People need to understand, the sharing of opinion is not an argument… I think most Samoans kinda think like that.”
He said the onus is on the young players coming in to commit fully to the sport as well.
“It’s very, very tough.
“Most of the guys, they can’t rest, because you know it’s the fa’asamoa at home.
“You can’t be lazy just sitting at home, you have to do chores, you have to do things.”
Taulafo said the young players need to learn how to look after themselves and their bodies as well, and stressed the importance of discipline and attitude.
“They want to listen, they want to learn.”
He said how the messages are conveyed is key.
“If you swear and all those things, the kids will not just switch off, but think negatively about themselves, instead of positive like ‘oh yeah I can do this’.”
He said it’s all for the good of Samoan rugby, and everyone has to work together to get it back on track.
“The way it is now, it’s very sad to look at, compared to what it was.”