Solomon Islander by blood

Tarkyn Loloselo
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Two touch-rugby world cups for New Zealand

By Taromane Martin & Peter Zoleveke II

THOUGH not many Solomon Islanders are known for playing rugby, there are some who have been paving and building their career in this sport overseas.

One of such players is 20-year-old Tarkyn Loloselo who moved with his father and mother to Auckland, New Zealand in 2003.

The second born of three children, Tarkyn’s father Lazarus Loloselo is from Savo Islands in the Central Province and his mother Benedict Loloselo is from the Lau region in Malaita Province. He has an elder brother and a young sister.

Unlike soccer players, which is the main sport in the Solomon Islands, 20 year old Loloselo young rugby career is already picking up colours having represented New Zealand in two touch rugby world cups and three transmans competition.

Despite still a current member of the New Zealand senior men’s national touch rugby team, Loloselo is now eyeing a new rugby league career after transitioning from rugby union to touch rugby in the last two years.

In November 2019, he returned home to give his services for the Solomon Islands national rugby 7s team that competed in Fiji at the Oceania national s championships. However, despite the colours in his young career it was a disappointed experience for the Loloselo who was made to feel as his services was not needed by the Solomon Islands Rugby Union Federation (SIRUF) national 7s team.

SunSPORTS was fortunate enough to catch up with the focused minded and determined young Tarkyn Loloselo to talk about his rugby career, experiences and what he plans on doing in the near future.

“Hi my name is Tarkyn Loloselo. Currently I’m 20 years old. I’m currently working as a carpenter in New Zealand.

“My mother is from Malaita Province and my father is from Savo Island, Central Province. I started my rugby career in South Auckland, playing rugby union all throughout my high school years.

“I had a surgery on my left shoulder, which put me out from contact sports for almost two years. In those two year’s I wasn’t able to play contact sports so I invested my time in touch footy and I was fortunate enough to make it into the New Zealand national touch team. Since then I’ve transitioned over to rugby league, so a different code.

“I didn’t really have any role models I would say growing up. I just kind of knew what I wanted to do and just had this really big self-belief.

“So if you talk about who inspires me the most, I kind of self-inspired myself to be really honest. I see myself as self-inspired and driven.

“For the past two years, I’ve been living in Australia. The reason I’m back in Auckland is because they’ve cancelled the footy tournament there so I’m back here in NZ.

“But the most notable teams I’ve played for would be the New Zealand Rugby Touch Team and the Western Mustang team competing in the Queensland U20 Hastings Deering Colts competition, which is only a level below the NRL.

Tarkyn Loloselo (second left) while playing for the NZ national touch rugby team.

“I was fortunate enough to make my debut in the NZ U-18 rugby touch team in 2017, from that campaign I got invited to go trail for the national men’s team and the same year I ended up making my debut for the national team.

“It was crazy man. I was a kid growing up that was given an opportunity and I just like took it with both hands.

“As a 17year old playing against big boys obviously you don’t really think much about it but my mind set was not like oh I’m a boy.

“My mind set was like we’ll all a man, you’ve got two arms, two legs, one head, and one heart and I also have the same.

“I made my debut when I was 17 and been playing in the team (NZ touch footy) for the past two years now. I’ve had two transman tournaments and one U-20s World Cup which I was fortunate enough to be the team’s captain.

“We went over to Malaysia and it was a good experience for myself obviously leading a great bunch of boys. Though we lost by two points in the final it was a good learning experience for myself and definitely a situation that you have to move on from. But it was a really good experience for myself and thoroughly enjoyed it.

“After that I ended up joining the senior men’s team to go to another World Cup, which I was very stoked about.

“This time I was the youngest player in the team and we went back to Malaysia for the World Cup. It was a bit of change to how I felt but I managed to mix well with the boys because obviously I’ve been playing with some of the guys before.

“Been really pleased to go to two World Cups for New Zealand in touch footy and played in two transman and youth transmans and a good number of tests.

“At the moment the next transman is coming up. I’m still currently in the squad but I think I kind of want to pull back and focus on my rugby league career.

“I told the coaches about this and they’ve real supportive. But we’ll kind of see how things go in the next few months.

“So, my positions are I play on anywhere on the outside backs, I grew up playing on the wing and got moulded into kind of a full back role, playing the halves but mostly full back and wing. I prefer to play on the wing but I think I’m gaining confidence in playing at the back now.

“Its real difficult to build a rugby career here in New Zealand because there are a lot of competitions here.

“You’ve got players who have been playing this sport since their young, or players whose fathers are rugby players themselves so obviously they have the upper hands.

“But like I said my mentality is everyone has one head, two feet, two arms and one heart so anything is possible.

“For me personally I think I have a lot of people to thank who pointed me in the right direction to achieve the success and I’m very blessed to have them in my life.

“The opportunities I’ve been given and I’m lucky to have taken it with both hands and just perform. All glory to God for giving me these blessing. I’m happy, blessed and very lucky,” he said.

In November 2019, the 20-year-old had returned home to play for the Solomon Islands Rugby Union Federation’s national rugby 7s team during the Oceania qualifiers. Sadly, it did not turn out the way he imagined it would be, he said.

Tarkyn Loloselo playing for the Western Mustangs in Australia.

“I don’t know much about SI rugby however I actually came back last November to play for the SI national rugby 7s team. We went over to Fiji but for some reason I didn’t play,” Loloselo said.

“I’m not trying to be big head or anything, but I just believed I had a lot to offer to the team with my skill set.

“To this day I don’t understand why they didn’t put me on the pitch. That is something you have to ask the coaches.

“At the moment I’m not really happy with the rugby guys in the Solomon’s because I came back offered my services, as I could have been playing in another tournament and earning money, but I told myself I wanted to go back and give back to the Solomon Islands people but I ended up not playing. To be honest it’s something to this day I’m still not really happy and how I was treated.

“I’m really not happy about that situation and I’m not really sure how I feel about coming back again with the way they treated me. I don’t know but yeah that’s just how I feel,” he adds.

Despite the bad experience with the national rugby 7s team, the Solomon Islands rugby League (SIRL) have said Loloselo is on their radar and that they will certainly be talking to him for possible inclusion if he is available for the emerging nations next year.