Editorial comment – Times for exposure

Some Fiji U18 rugby players with President Jioji Konrote after the presentation of their itatau at Borron House in Suva on Monday. Picture: JOVESA NAISUA

THE President Jioji Konrote labelled it a groundbreaking initiative to develop rugby when he received the itatau of the Fiji under-18 and under-16 teams on Monday in Suva.

The teams presented their itatau to the President at Borron House.

The President wished the teams well.

“This is a groundbreaking initiative to develop the sport of rugby at the secondary school level, and I convey to you our collective good wishes for a successful tour this time to Australia and New Zealand,” he said. “Be the best you can be.”

The under-18 team heads to New Zealand for a three-match tour, playing against the U18 New Zealand Barbarians, the U18 New Zealand Maori and the Wellington Samoans, from September 27 to October 7.

It is an opportunity, he said, to expose our young players to playing international teams at a higher level and against the backdrop of a more intense and competitive atmosphere.

Such exposure, he said, was valuable and should assist our coaches and more importantly, the young players, to know what to expect when they play at the international level.

The under-16 team heads to Australia’s Gold Coast for the 2018 Junior Rugby Championship from September 28 to October 6.

The President challenged our young ruggers to give the tour their best shot, and to also enjoy themselves.

“By all means enjoy the opportunity to represent your country as you compete in what I understand is going to be a very tough tournament, enjoy the sights and since most of you will be travelling for the first time, by all means, make new friends.”

Such tours will no doubt be lapped up by players who are keen to chart a pathway to the highest pedestal reserved for the top players of the world.

This is an opportunity to be exposed to a higher standard of competition, against some of the top international young ruggers.

Such tours are important for they set the stage for the development of our game.

The challenge though is on the powers that be to nurture our young players, and provide them the incentive to stick around and make the transition to the Flying Fijians.

It is a fact of life that many of our young players will eventually head overseas for greener pastures.

They will miss the eyes of our development teams for various reasons, and move on to earn a living playing the game they love.

Some of them may even move on to represent top clubs around the world, playing in some of the top competitions.

Some may become future national stars, and some may even move on to represent other countries.

The key is retention, and how we factor that into our plans in the greater scheme of things. For now though, we wish our young ruggers representing us overseas all the best and a safe and enjoyable journey of discovery.

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