The St George Illawarra Dragons have proudly said ‘Tālofa’ after arriving safely to further develop the game of rugby league in Samoa on Thursday.
The Dragons, in conjunction with representatives from the NRL, will spend three days identifying and assessing more than 200 prospective athletes across a number of physical testing simulations while additionally promoting key messages about the game across the island nation.
The travelling Dragons contingent includes Dragons Recruitment Manager Ben Haran, Dragons Strength and Conditioning Coach Scott Campbell, Dragons and NRL Community Ambassador Shaun Timmins and NRL Education and Welfare Manager Nigel Vagana.
The outcome of this visit is to provide Samoan players a pathway in a tested system to potentially reach the NRL from the Pacific region and to provide education through the successful Tackle Bullying and Dream Believe Achieve programs.
“It’s exciting as it will be the first time any club has travelled there and constructed a program like the one we have,” said Dragons Recruitment Manager Ben Haran.
“The NRL has been very supportive of this venture so it’s an initiative that they see good for the game in general.
“We will be going over to promote the game of rugby league as well as invite players there to take part in a range of physical testing that will eventuate into a game that will be played on the final day.
“Players there would like to align themselves with an NRL club and this is the perfect sounding board for them to show off what they’ve got.”
The Dragons have a strong connection with Samoan Rugby League with Toa Samoa internationals Leeson Ah Mau and Peter Mata’utia both presently playing their trade with the Red V.
Additionally, Dragons Strength and Conditioning Coach Scott Campbell currently serves as Performance Director for the Samoan National Rugby League team while Head Coach Steve Price oversaw the Toa Samoa team between 2010-13.
“Scott Campbell has been a real driving force behind making this trip a reality due to his relationship with Samoan Rugby League,” said Haran.
“He was recently involved in Toa Samoa Pacific Test win which secured qualification into the upcoming Four Nations tournament so his experience will be invaluable.
“Furthermore, both Leeson and Peter have been very supportive of this initiative too and have each been promoting the visit through their own channels to spread the message.
“Unfortunately they are unable to attend themselves on this occasion due to training commitments but if everything works well maybe they can come next time.”