Tawa looks to more Lions

Kapi-Mana News - - SPORT - By KRIS DANDO

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.

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