Su­per Rugby Good For Is­lands: Leo

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in Au­gust, and works with the 72 play­ers of Samoan, Fi­jian or Ton­gan her­itage who op­er­ate in the Premiership, pro­vid­ing ad­vice on a va­ri­ety of so­cial and fi­nan­cial is­sues. “The pro­gramme is about in­creas­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tion at all lev­els,” the for­mer Wasps lock ex­plained.

“Our [Pa­cific Is­land] cul­tures are very in­di­rect and hi­er­ar­chi­cal. It would be very dis­re­spect­ful to ask ques­tions of those in au­thor­ity, like coaches. “So part of the RPA pro­gramme is to up-skill play­ers in the Premiership about the cul­tural dif­fer­ences.

Many Fi­jian-born play­ers, like Wasps’ Nathan Hughes, have cho­sen to rep­re­sent other na­tions at Test level, af­ter com­plet­ing three years of res­i­dency “Cul­tur­ally we are not en­cour­aged to ver­balise our frus­tra­tions, talk and ask ques­tions.

“There­fore it is very easy to act those frus­tra­tions out phys­i­cally, ei­ther off the field or on it.” Leo has al­ready been able to make a dif­fer­ence in help­ing Pa­cific Is­land play­ers ac­cli­ma­tise to life in Eng­land.

“I’ve come across a Pa­cific Is­land player here in the Premiership who didn’t like his nick­name, and saw it as a big sign of dis­re­spect,” Leo con­tin­ues. “For six months he just wanted to leave the club, but when I ex­plained it is a sign of en­dear­ment and once he un­der­stood that he was so happy. “And he has now gone to be­ing one of their top per­form­ers.” Leo says he wants to use his own ex­pe­ri­ences as a young player in Eng­land to help oth­ers. “I strug­gled when I came here,” he ad­mit­ted. “I was sum­moned to court twice for things like un­paid TV li­cense and coun­cil tax. “It may seem triv­ial to peo­ple who have grown up here and un­der­stand the sys­tem, but if you are com­ing from a tiny is­land in the mid­dle of the Pa­cific, even try­ing to get things like a driver’s li­cence can be quite dif­fi­cult.”

As well as talk­ing to play­ers across the game, Leo has vis­ited a num­ber of Premiership clubs, ed­u­cat­ing their ad­min­is­tra­tors about the chal­lenges fac­ing Pa­cific Is­land play­ers who have re­lo­cated to Eng­land. “There are play­ers over here who send a lot of money home to try and main­tain the con­nec­tion with their fam­i­lies and com­mu­ni­ties back in the Is­lands,” Leo added. BBC Sports

Me­tuisela Tale­bula at­tacks for the Voda­fone Fly­ing Fi­jians against Eng­land last week­end.

For­mer Samoan cap­tain Dan Leo.

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