SPORTS

Naitasiri Shifting Into Overdrive For Skipper Cup

The Highlanders will host Lautoka at Ratu Cakobau Park, Nausori next Saturday.
15 Jul 2020 14:11
Naitasiri Shifting Into Overdrive For Skipper Cup
MAROONS HARD AT WORK.........Waisale Siganimate (left) leads the attack during Lautoka squad training at Churchill Park on July 14, 2020. They will play Naitasiri at Ratu Cakobau Park, Nausori on July 25. Photo: Waisea Nasokia

Naitasiri coach Ilaitia Tuisese Jnr said the Naitasiri squad were slowly shifting into overdrive as they prepare for their first Skipper Cup Premiership match.

The Highlanders will host Lautoka at Ratu Cakobau Park, Nausori next Saturday.

“Lautoka won the Vodafone Vanua Championship last year and we give them credit for that,” Tuisese said.

Ilaitia Tuisese Jnr

Ilaitia Tuisese Jnr

And being promoted to top tier competition is nothing new to the Maroons as they have been there before.

“All teams train to win as no team trains to lose in any day. And given the makeup of the competition, we respect all the teams we will be playing against hence we intend to lay the platform for our season when we play Lautoka,” he said.

Tuisese said the boys have been preparing well and adapting given the three months off the rugby field due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“Preparation has been coming along good coming back from a long break.

“The boys are all eager to work hard at training knowing very well that this is the new normal, training for 5 weeks(off season) to play in a 16-match competition.

“Overall it had been very encouraging seeing the boys slugging it out in every session.”

One of the major weaknesses encountered last year was the transfer of players to other districts and overseas clubs.

“I guess it is more of creating that depth in our squad when you have players moving to other unions or playing overseas. That is always a challenge to the coaching staff and to have everybody on par with their game sense, fitness and attitude.

“If we can get this right and tick all the boxes, we should be in good shape and produce a very competitive team.”

Overseas Players

While having overseas based players might boost the Naitasiri side, Tuisese said they were not banking on big names but hard work.

“As of the past years, the Highlanders always champion our local breed players, those who are coming through our system and it would be a bonus to have overseas based players to play for us.

“But still, just like anyone else, all need to work hard for a spot in the team.”

The other Skipper Cup Premiership matches are Nadroga-Suva at Lawaqa Park, Sigatoka, Namosi hosts Tailevu at Thomson Park, Navua and Nadi vs Yasawa at Churchill Park, Lautoka.

Maroons training hard

Meanwhile, Lautoka rugby squad had another training session yesterday.

And Coach Vereniki Tukana was happy with the preparation.

“After the lifting of the restrictions, we were given four weeks to prepare and I’m happy the players are slowly picking up form fitness-wise,”Tukana said.

“We are hard at work and hopefully everything should be up to par by game day.”

Lautoka and Yasawa were the top two teams from the 2019 Vodafone Vanua Championship promoted to the 2020 Skipper Cup Premiership with Northland and Rewa relegated.

“The bulk of our squad comprised last year’s Maroons as we build for the future,”Tukana said.

“We are in the top tier comp and we want to be part of it in future. That’s why all have been working hard from ever since.”

Edited by Osea Bola

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