The Pacific Challenge is set to kick off in a month from now and will give several players set to represent Fiji and Japan at the World Rugby U20 Championship in Italy this June further exposure to international competition.
Last year 11 Swire Shipping Fijian Warriors squad for the Pacific Challenge helped Fiji win the World Rugby U20 Trophy in Romania.
The World Rugby funded tournament is a proven player development platform in the Pacific Islands and Asia, delivering a high-performance pathway for a core group of under-23 players from domestic to international rugby.
World Rugby Chairman Sir Bill Beaumont said that It will be very exciting to witness the next generation of talented young Pacific Islands and Japanese players in action during the Pacific Challenge 2020.
“The Pacific region and Japan made a huge contribution to the success of Rugby World Cup 2019 with their unique skill, style and determination.”
“The Pacific Challenge is part of a comprehensive four-year programme of high-performance support in the region that includes initiatives such as the Pacific Combine and the Fijian Drua, which help retain and develop the Pacific Islands’ best young talent.”
25 players in the Warriors squad are playing for the first time in the Pacific Challenge and majority are in the Fijian Under 20 squad.
Warriors heads coach Kele Leawere emphasized that this tournament will be a perfect platform for them to be exposed to.
“This is their chance to come up to this level and experience it and get exposed to another level of competition.”
The squad went through a few days in camp as they’re working to gel in together with the new players.
“This few days’ camp is aimed at getting these boys to gel in together so when the tournament takes place, everything falls into place”
“Right now we’re looking at where the boys are at in terms of fitness level, and from there we can map out our camp strategy on what the boys need to work on in terms of their fitness”
Kele explained that everyone will need to work extra hard to earn a place in the final squad, “they individually need to put on the hard yards to make it to the team”
Organised as a round-robin event with all three rounds played at the ANZ Stadium, the line-up for this year’s Pacific Challenge will feature defending champions Swire Shipping Fijian Warriors, Junior Japan, Tonga A and Samoa A.
The team that records the maximum number of competition points across three match days on 6, 10 and 14 March will be crowned Pacific Challenge Champions on 14 March.
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