SCOPA flies in Fijian secret weapons

Former Fiji national team sevens players Pio Tuwai and Joeli Lutumailagi, and wider squad member Nacanieli Batina, arrived in Samoa yesterday to link up with the AST SCOPA Rugby Club ahead of the Vailima Marist International Sevens Tournament this Friday and Saturday.

Tuwai said he was happy to be in Samoa for the first time ever, and is looking forward to the tournament this week.

“I’m thankful to the SCOPA management for getting me to Samoa this week.”

He said he was excited to play with and against the young talent here.

“We are here to push them to another level.”

Tuwai said the end goal was for those players to go overseas and get professional contracts.

He himself plays for Marlborough Rugby Football Club in England, and will fly out of Apia on Monday to join them.

Tuwai said the players know they have to work hard, and build relationships quickly with the local players without much time to prepare.

“We are here to help them and to win this weekend.”

The players headed straight from the airport to the Samoa College Field to meet up with their new teammates and see them train.

Lilomaiava Filia Iosefa thanked the trio for coming on behalf of SCOPA’s executive.

“Pio was supposed to go to England, but we managed to convince him, and diverted him to come here,” he said.

“It’s the first time that SCOPA has actually imported, we’ve always had local players.”

Lilomaiava hoped the class of the Fijians could take SCOPA over the top for their first Marist Sevens tournament win.

He said Samoa College old pupils based overseas were influential in recruiting and sponsoring the players to come over.

Tuwai and Lutumailagi both played for the Fijian national team until 2017, while Batina has played at the Silicon Valley Sevens pre-season tournament as part of the wider training squad

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