Western Leader : January 13th 2012
www.westernleader.co.nz 11 WESTERN LEADER, JANUARY 13, 2012 SPORT Talented fullback makes rep squad at sevens tourney Champions: The victorious Aucklanders do a lap of honour after winning the national rugby sevens title for an 11th time. Photos: MICHAEL THOMAS/PHOTOSPORT Strong defence: Suburbs player Nathan Hughes, playing for Auckland, fends off Taranaki's Ben Souness. Too fast: Lolagi Visina runs 40 metres for a try in the final against Otago. Try time: Alex Samoa touches down for Auckland against Waikato. Desperate defence: Massey Rugby Club's Ken Pisi, playing for North Harbour, tries to grab hold of Waikato's Frank Halai. By TUREI MACKEY Learning to set goals at high school has paid off for emerg- ing rugby talent Lolagi Visina. The Avondale resident was a strong performer at the national rugby sevens tour- nament in Queenstown last weekend, scoring a scintil- lating try for Auckland in its 36-24 final victory against Otago. Along with winning the championship, Visina has been named in the 30-man training squad for the New Zealand national sevens side. Joining him are Suburbs clubmate Nathan Hughes and Massey Rugby Club's Ken Pisi and Nafi Tuitavake. The 18-year-old's rise can be traced back to late-2010 when Visina was preparing for his last year at Kelston Boys High School. I was talking to my coaches and they told me to set some sporting goals for 2011. So the first was to start for the first 15 team and the second was to earn represen- tative honours, both which turned into reality.'' Visina was a star for the Kelston team which won the national secondary schools title and saw the fullback much sought after by a num- ber of football codes. He was scouted by NRL clubs including the Warriors, Newcastle Knights and Syd- ney City Roosters, and also attracted interest from Aust- ralian Rules teams. Visina decided to stay with rugby. I was stoked to be asked by so many teams but at the moment my focus is on rugby union,'' he says. My aim in 2012 is to crack the national sevens side and the Auckland provincial side. I also want to play for Suburbs which has been my club since I was a junior. There is the ultimate goal of playing for the All Blacks.'' Suburbs coach Ramsey Tomokino expects his star fullback to rise through the ranks this year. He is the complete pack- age for a player. He has got a kicking game, a core base of skills, and at the national tournament Lolagi was never beaten by anybody when on defence. All the time you see tal- ented kids get to this level and you never hear of them again. I don't think that will be the case with him.'' The next step for Visina will be participating in Gor- don Tietjens' tough training sessions when the sevens squad meets next week. Surfers pin hopes on world championships Three Piha surfers are hoping to represent New Zealand at the ISA World Surfing Championship in Panama this year. The national junior surfing squad was named last month in preparation for the competition in April. New Zealand juniors fin- ished 10th at last year's World Surfing Champion- ship in Peru. Piha surfers Tane Wallis, Waretini Wano and Elliot Paerata-Reid are in the top squad. The 22 surfers will be reduced to 12 next month when the travelling team is officially named. The squad will be put through their paces at national events and training camps over the next eight weeks beginning with training at Piha next week. First time coach Jason Ruddell says it will be a chance for management and surfers to bond. I don't personally know a lot of them although with social media and the inter- net I have been able to watch their progress. That first training day will be about getting to know them personally and evaluating their strengths, weaknesses and condition- ing,'' Mr Ruddell says. While the final team has yet to be decided, Ruddell is impressed with the talent pool developing in Auckland. Guys like Tane Wallis and Elliott Paerata-Reid are up there and rated highly. Piha, and Gisborne, get consistent surf so that is why there is a lot of poten- tial there.'' National selector Lee Ryan says the number of new surfers will bring more energy to the squad. Which I am sure will bode well as they get together and strive for a place in the trav- elling team come April.''
January 12th 2012
January 17th 2012