High Performance graduates get overseas exposure

Lance Polu

, Sports

Logovi'i Mulipola and Maselino Paulino with HPUs Tuala Mathew Vaea

APIA: Monday 11 April 2011: Maselino Paulino and Logovii Mulipola are two amongst a hand full of High Performance graduates taking the next step to New Zealand this week for a player program geared to give both players a taste of professional rugby with the Hawkes Bay Rugby Union during its ITM Cup season in 2011.

Both products of the Samoa High performance program, the two players immediately impressed Manu Samoa assistant coach Tom Coventry during last years Manu Samoa tour to Japan and the United Kingdom.

Coventry, who is also the Hawkes Bay Magpies ITM Cup head coach, was quick to heave praise on the two local players, citing their impressive performances against a hardened Japanese team at Prince Chichibu stadium as the catalyst for their invitation to Hawkes Bay.

“They played exceptionally well against the Japanese in torrid conditions, despite their inexperience at this level” says Coventry.

“Both players have an immense amount of raw physical talent. Maselino is perhaps the most athletic lock I have ever come across, and his aerial ability is a pleasure to see, which he showed us against the Japanese in terrible conditions. He is very mobile and adds that extra element around the field. Logovi’i is just a wrecking ball, and is also in that rare category in terms of physical ability. His ball running skills and his immense mobility is where he absolutely stands out. ”

However Coventry also pinpoints what he hopes to achieve with both Mulipola and Paulino at Hawkes Bay, which should pay dividends for both Hawks Bay this season and also the Manu Samoa in the future.

“Quality Locks and Front Rowers are two key positions the Manu Samoa are hoping to develop, and that’s where we see the value of Maselino and Logovii being here. It’s a matter of tightening them up at the set pieces and the breakdown area, and importantly driving them to be consistent week in and week out in these key areas. There is no doubt they have the athleticism and skill, but that’s only one facet among others needed to succeed as a professional player,” said Coventry.

Tuala Mathew Vaea, the Samoa Rugby Union High Performance Manager is equally optimistic for the two players and sees the increase of local players developing their skills abroad as being crucial in lifting the playing levels at home.

“Local players stand to achieve an invaluable amount of experience and knowledge at being able to gauge their skills at higher levels of competition” says Tuala.

“We are seeing a continuation of our High Performance program happening through graduates aspiring to another level in plying and further developing their skills in a professional environment, which is most pleasing to see,” exclaims Vaea.

Two other High Performance Unit graduates have similarly been accepted to play their trade with clubs in New Zealand, with Vailele Tauloa now playing with the Rogotai Rugby club in Wellington, and Manu Samoa hooker Andrew Williams also in New Zealand with the Tokoroa Rugby Club.

Named as the tallest lock at the 2008 IRB Junior World Cup, Paulino is quietly excited at the prospect of playing in the forthcoming ITM Provincial competition.

“I am looking forward to learning as much as I can with the Magpies, and hope to come away at the end of the season a better player,” said Paulino. He currently plays for Moamoa, with Mulipola turning out for Vaiala in the Apia Rugby Union competition. Both have recently returned from the IRB Pacific Rugby Cup with the Samoa A team.