By Taromane Martin
HEAD Coach for the Solomon Islands national U-18 rugby 7s team llivasi Tabua says they are travelling to compete at the Oceania U-18 rugby 7s competition in Sydney.
The junior national rugby 7s squad left the country on Tuesday for the competition, which features rugby powerhouses, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji and Samoa, for qualification for this year’s Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Mr Tabua, a former rugby international player for the Australia Wallabies and Fiji, says while they have respect for the big names in rugby, his side is heading into the competition knowing they can compete.
“Sometimes we wrongly say to ourselves that because our size is small we cannot compete,” he told SunSPORTS.
“But I guess we have to work on our strength and how best we can play the game to our physique and to our knowledge.
“We have the bigger rugby nations in the Pacific such as New Zealand, Fiji and Australia competing. We respect them for who they are but we are not going in there saying we cannot compete.
“We just got to learn how to play the game based on who we are and not on the record of those things, and take it as a positive step for us to develop not only the players but also rugby for tomorrow,” Tabua said.
Tabua who is also known as the Human Skewer on and off the pitch, said competing at the tournament is all about getting exposure for his players and as part of his commitment as mentor to SIRUF in developing rugby in the country.
“It’s not only about me. It’s about how we can pass on the knowledge to empower Solomon Islands coaches and players to enable them to become a positive influence in their community, schools, families, country and the rugby community as well.
“These guys in two years’ time could be in the senior national squad and that is why we want to develop and identify the path way system.
“We know we have a current Solomon team but we need to adapt so the next generation of Solomon players can take us to the next level.
“By competing we can test our level and come back and say, okay what do we need to do. Is it the development plan, is it the skill capacity.
“How can we develop ourselves to be competitive in the region? And that’s why we are taking this as an experience and exposure for our young players so come the 2023 Honiara Pacific Games, they’ll be ready for the level,” he said.
The Oceania U-18 rugby 7s championship will kick off this Saturday finishing on Sunday. Solomon Islands are bye in the opening matches for Saturday.