Selectors impressed with Pacific talent

By Sulamanaia Manaui Faulalo 21 April 2024, 7:00PM

Japan head coach Eddie Jones was part of the panel of selectors asked to select up to 30 players from the Pacific Challenge who would go for a camp under the PacAus Sports programmes.

Jones has been in Samoa for just over a week, where he has been scouting for talent in the Pacific Challenge tournament.

Speaking about the tournament, Jones said, "The tournament has been great with all four countries Samoa, Tonga, Fiji and Japan. I have enjoyed watching the team play, especially as their first international experience." 

He acknowledged the Japan XV having majority of the players playing for the first time internationally and coming out as champions.

"For these guys, it's their first international experience. To have a winning experience makes them feel good and makes them want to work a little bit harder," said Jones.

Jones also revealed that he has already identified a few players from the Japan XV, who could potentially make it to the national squad this year. 

"There's at least three or four of these players who could possibly end up in the national squad as soon as this year," said Jones. 

Simon Raiwalui, former head coach of the Flying Fijians and scouter, echoed Jones' sentiments, saying, "It's looking good for the next generation of players coming through. We've got a good selection there. We're making our selections, they'll be announced tomorrow." 

Raiwalui added that he and the team of selectors were impressed with the improvement of the boys throughout the tournament and that there is a good balance throughout the three nations.

"It was a really good tournament. All three, well obviously Japan won the tournament, congratulations to them. But all three Pacific Island teams improved throughout the tournament," said Raiwalui. 

Jones also commented on his stay in Samoa: "It's nice to come back. Obviously, the city has developed massively. They've got a great stadium here. There seems like a really vibrant mood within Apia." His last visit was in 2006 when he was the technical advisor for Samoa.

Jones stressed the importance of finding new talent for the future of the Cherry Blossoms, saying, "At the last World Cup, Japan had a very old team. We're looking for new talent, looking for new young guys to come through. To have a winning experience makes them feel good and makes them want to work a little bit harder."

By Sulamanaia Manaui Faulalo 21 April 2024, 7:00PM
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