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By ARU Media Unit
Australian Rugby Union’s Sydney and Brisbane-based National Academy squads are gearing up to face international development sides from Fiji and Samoa in the second round of the IRB Pacific Rugby Cup.
Sydney’s National Academy side will meet Samoa A at TG Milner Oval in Eastwood at 4:00pm (local time) while Brisbane’s Academy will take on Fiji A at Ballymore at 6:00pm (local time) on Thursday 7 March.
The two games will provide Australian Rugby Union’s 2013 National Academy players with an opportunity to showcase the skills they have been developing since coming together as a group in November.
National Academy Sydney coach Sean Hedger said the match offers players a great opportunity to further develop their skill set.
“This will be a very high standard of Rugby,” Hedger said.
“They’re playing an international team and our players will learn from this. Games like this are invaluable for our player development.”
Both matches will feature numerous Australian Schoolboys and Australian Under-20 representatives who are utilising the National Academy to further their development as they build on their Rugby careers.
The Brisbane National Academy side will feature 2012 Australian Under-20 representatives Maile Ngaumo and Sam Reiser along with 2012 Australian Schoolboys representative Jonah Placid.
The Sydney National Academy side includes 2012 Under-20 players Alan Alaalatoa, Hugh Roach, Apolosi Latunipulu, Steve Cummins, as well as 2012 Schoolboys player David Horwitz.
National Academy Brisbane coach Paul Carozza said while he hoped both sides were successful in their matches on Thursday, there was a bigger picture at play.
“Obviously we want to be competitive, but from a big picture perspective it’s all about development,” Carozza said.
“We want the players to put what they’ve learned into practice in a game context. The National Academy is about physical, skill and game knowledge development. We’re teaching these young men to prepare to be professional athletes.”
Carozza’s point about development is a poignant one, with 12 members of the 2012 Australian Rugby Union National Academy graduating to Super Rugby for the 2013 season.
From last year’s Academy, Ruan Smith joined the ACT Brumbies; Jordy Reid, Trent Dyer and Tom English joined the Melbourne Rebels; Matt Lucas, Sam Lane, Jed Holloway and Ben Volavola joined the NSW Waratahs; Blake Enever and Jarrad Butler joined the Queensland Reds; and Solomoni Rasolea and Ed Stubbs joined the Western Force.
The second round of the Pacific Rugby Cup also features Brumbies development side ACT XV taking on Tonga A at Vikings Park in Canberra at 4:30pm on Thursdasy 7 March. ACT XV will be looking to continue its winning ways after defeating Samoa A 58-19 in the opening round of the tournament.
The annual Pacific Rugby Cup features development teams from Tonga, Fiji, Samoa, and now Japan playing three fixtures each in Australia before travelling to New Zealand to face its Super Rugby development sides.
The Australian leg of the tournament features development teams from all five Australian Super Rugby sides as well as the Sydney and Brisbane National Academy teams.
The tournament, funded by the IRB, sits one level below the Pacific Nations Cup and is a key Rugby development pathway for participating nations, Fiji, Samoa, Tonga, and now Japan.
The 2013 Pacific Rugby Cup champions will be determined by points accumulated across the tournaments in Australia and New Zealand, and the final round played prior to the northern hemisphere Test window.