Tawa looks to more Lions
Boxes to tick, tactics to hone, and prayers for no injuries on the rock-hard turf.
This is what’s going through the mind of Tawa rugby coach Steve So’oialo.
The winds of change have been blowing through Tawa RFC for some years now, with illdiscipline, lowly finishes and stodgy play a thing of the past. Club captain Allan Davidson says they have an excellent committee, the fans are coming through the gate and the club is working hard to enhance its standing in the community.
‘‘There is a good feeling around the direction we have and a lot of that has to do with Steve and Dion [Waller, Tawa’s club coaching co-ordinator] and where they want to take us.’’
Waller says closer connections between the junior section of Tawa RFC and the community, and a stronger link with Tawa College is paying off. Results on the field matter, he says, but loyalty, passion and goal- setting among senior players is even more important.
‘‘We want to create pathways into the Wellington Lions and through hard work, we believe we can help our players achieve that. We want to be able to say, confidently, ‘if you want to become a Lion, come to Tawa’.’’
Success on the field in 2011 – making the Jubilee Cup round and finishing sixth – helped the club contribute 14 players to representative level, from Wellington under 18s, Wellington Maori and Samoa, and the Lions.
Losing key players to higher honours is a necessary evil for a club coach, but So’oialo wants nothing more than to see his charges pull on a Wellington jumper.
Well into pre-season training and games, he says they are close to getting their squad fine-tuned. They have lost just one player from their senior side and have welcomed a handful from other Wellington clubs and one from Italy.
So’oialo says they will compete well in the first round Swindale Shield.
‘‘It always starts up front. We don’t have a big pack but we are physical and committed, and if your patterns of play and discipline – something we are working hard on – are solid, you’ll do well.
‘‘We want to build on last year and while we’re going up and up, it’s important as coaches that we keep the players focused and level-headed.’’
So’oialo, who has international experience as a halfback, is likely to pull on the No 9 jersey again.
Tawa’s first home match is against Upper Hutt at Lyndhurst Park on April 1.
Home games will also be streamed live on the internet at www.tawarugby.co.nz
Ready for rugby: Tawa RFC’s Dion Waller, Allan Davidson and Steve So’oialo are relishing the start of the new club rugby season.