by Chris Newman, Date: 3/8/12
It has been a momentous two weeks for the development of rugby league in Samoa, with the touring NSW CRL side playing two gruelling tests against the Toa Residents side.
Both games were close and provided an entertaining promotion of rugby league at an elite level.
But it wasnâ€™t just the footy on the field that did the talking. NSW CRL and Toa Residents joined forces to giveback to the growing rugby league community of Samoa.
Although the results of the games between NSW CRL and Toa Residents werenâ€™t in Samoaâ€™s favour, it was the game of rugby league in Samoa that proved to be the real winner.
The visit from the NSW CRL squad not only provided an opportunity for Samoaâ€™s top players to play at an elite level, but also gave both Toa players and students the opportunity to benefit from the knowledge and experience of both NSW CRL players and staff.
Active involvement from both teams with schoolboy rugby league players saw young players brush shoulderswith their heroes and encouraged them to pursue their love for the game.
â€œI can safely say the game of rugby league in Samoa is in a healthy state,â€ said Rugby League Samoa Coaching and Development Manager Chris Newman.
â€œWe will now continue with the momentum and grow the game even bigger, better and stronger.â€
MORE THAN JUST A GAME
The NSW CRL tour of Samoa proved rugby league is more than just a game as the touring side, together with Toa Residents, made a huge impact off the field.
Rugby League Samoa was pleasantly surprised when asked by NSW CRL coach Brett Jones if the touring team could take some time out from training to visit a local school.
One morning after training, the whole team boarded a bus and visited Vaiala Beach Primary School. The players ran rugby league clinics and also joined the children in the classroom. The surprise visit provided a real buzz for the young students.
â€œI am not sure who enjoyed it more â€“ the kids or the players,â€ said RLS Coaching and Development Manager Chris Newman.
â€œIt was really fantastic and I would like to commend the NSW CRL on their professionalism and assistance in helping with our grass roots development programs in schools.â€
The school visit was backed up by the NSW CRL team and staff attending Toa Academy U16s sessions throughout the week.
Six players from NSWCRL conducted a pool session with the 40-man Toa Academy squad. They demonstrated to the young players how a pool recovery session is run and also had a chat to the boys about what it takes to be an elite rugby league player.
On Thursday the Toa Academy players were lucky enough to be visited by two of the most respected men in Rugby League â€“ Australian Kangaroos team doctor Hugh Hazard and physiotherapist Tony Ayoub. The two highly experienced professionals talked to the young players about the importance of nutrition, hydration and injury recovery.
NSW CRL team trainer Des Rayward then lent his expertise on field, taking the Toa Academy squad for a skills session.