Talavalu: Training from SRU

American Samoa national Sevens coach Leota Setefano Fata was the only player from the Territory to be selected in the Manu Samoa in 1994. [Photo: Naenae Productions]

After recently becoming a full-fledged member of the International Rugby Board, the American Samoa Rugby Union is making sure its national Sevens squad gets top-notch training to get them well prepared for their first international fixture at the end of the month.

Named after the weapon favored by Samoan warriors in ancient times, members of the Talavalu team from American Samoa were like eager new recruits sponging up all they could on the art of warfare from the renowned warrior from Falealili district Manu Samoa, after which Samoa’s rugby team is named.

According to manager and ASRU Board Member Peseta Sa Mavaega, Governor Togiola Tulafono who is also the ASRU chairman and executives had approached the SRU for a chance to have the 20-man national training squad undergo intensive training at their High Performance Program facilities at Tuanaimato.

The request was approved by SRU chairman Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi and executives, and the Talavalu squad was given the red carpet treatment getting intensive training on the field and in their state of the art gymnasium not forgetting one-on-one counseling sessions and accommodation all for free.

“I’d like to thank the SRU for everything they have done for us this week,” Peseta acknowledged. “It was all done free of charge. We just provided our own food.”

Talavalu coach Leota Setefano Fata who is no stranger to international rugby being the only player from American Samoa to be picked in the 1994 Manu Samoa squad, also expressed his appreciation to the SRU for the level of training they received.

“We were lucky to get instruction from people like Lilomaiava Taufusi Salesa who is the SRU Development Director, High Performance Unit Manager Tuala Matthew Vaea, Manu Samoa coach Stephen Betham, Sevens coach Faamaoni Lalomilo and Development Officer Fepuleai Selefuti Patu,” Leota revealed. “Each one focused on a particular area of the game and we even had one-on-one counseling sessions with trainer Michael Deasy who pointed out each players’ strengths and weaknesses and what to do to improve.”

Leota said that they have greatly improved their game especially on ball handling in defense and have gained some invaluable experience to hone their skills.

The Talavalu even locked horns with the Manu Samoa Sevens training squad as the officials of both unions systematically analyzed each team and individual player.

“This has certainly been an eye-opener for us,” said Coach Leota. “And having a place like this will certainly help the development of the game in the Territory.”

The 20-man squad has about seven players who played in the Oceania qualifying tournament last year. A 12-man squad will eventually be selected while the other eight players will be non-traveling reserves to be called into action when a player cannot continue a tournament due to injury.

The 20-man Talavalu training squad will return to American Samoa tomorrow and will leave the Territory on Monday night for Hawaii where they will compete in a Sevens tourney there before returning home to get ready for the 2012 Oceania Sevens Tournament to be held in Australia on August 24 and 25.


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