The Pacific Nations Cup is supporting rugby in the islands and Junior All Blacks co-coach Colin Cooper wants it to continue.
“It is good for the game in the islands,” Cooper said while in Dunedin. “It is very important that New Zealand continues to support the islands and their rugby.”
Cooper said the Junior All Blacks’ tour made a big impact in Samoa, Fiji and Tonga.
“The game is huge in the islands,” he said. “I don’t think people in New Zealand realise how big the game is there. That is why I think we should be there promoting the game as well as developing depth ourselves for the All Blacks.”
Cooper believes that each year the New Zealand Rugby Union needs to send the Juniors or the Maori to the islands.
“We need to send quality teams over there,” he said. “It is part of our job and responsibility to grow the game in the islands.”
Australian A coach Laurie Fisher backs Cooper in this.
“The Pacific Nations Cup is a fantastic concept and wonderful for the Pacific nations and for our own players who are trying to make the Wallaby team.”
He sees the competition as an important building block for Australian rugby.
“It is a really good competition for us,” Fisher said. “If you are not in the Wallaby side you just play club rugby at this time of the year. The gulf between the standards is enormous.”
Junior All Blacks captain Marty Holah said the three weeks spent in the islands helped bind his team into a solid unit.
“If we hadn’t been there I don’t think we would have played as well as we did tonight,” he said. “We had to hang in tough by sticking tight in a different environment.”
* By Rugby News
caption: Junior All Blacks co-coach Colin Cooper speaks to media