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Vanuatu Rugby League announces national team

Rugby League

Following on from the successful introduction of rugby league and selection trial in Port Vila last Saturday December 10th, the Vanuatu Rugby League is pleased to announce the inaugural Vanuatu national rugby league team to compete at the International Rugby League 9’s event in Sydney, Australia on February 4th next year.

Consisting of local players from Port Vila and Espiritu Santo and eligible players currently playing in Australia and Fiji, the team is one that features a number of talented young players coupled with some more experienced players who are eager to lead the side around. Amongst the 18 member squad are some familiar names in rugby league circles including Joe Meninga – the nephew of Australian rugby league great Mal Meninga – whose ancestry comes from Tanna Island and Daniel Backo, the son of former Queensland and Australia prop Sam Backo.

Local based players Nelson Law and Jason Pakoasongi were selected after their performances at Korman Stadium last weekend, whilst other local players Robert Franklin and Herbie Henderson are selected as standby players in case of injury. Another interesting representative is Emosi Ugavule, who gained selection following an impressive showing at the trials held in Suva, Fiji in November. The trial in Suva was for the Vanuatu Descendants group, of which more than 50 players attended.

The International 9s will feature international sides from Fiji, Tonga, Samoa, Cook Islands, Nuie and Philippines along with NZ Maori, Australian Indigenous and club sides from Sydney. This will be the very first time a national team has represented Vanuatu and even though amongst tough opponents the team is expecting some positive results.

“This is a great opportunity for the Vanuatu national rugby league side to compete on the international stage and the Vanuatu Rugby League believe that we have been able to identify a very formidable side, of which we expect to turn a few heads come February 4th” commented national team coach Dane Campbell. “Although we will not have access to some of our eligible players who are currently playing at the NRL level such as Justin O’Neill (Melbourne Storm), Travis Waddell (Canberra Raiders), Alehana Mara (NZ Warriors), Malcolm Congoo (Canberra Raiders) or Javarn White (Gold Coast Titans) we have some great experience in James Wood, Robert Congoo and Jardine Bobongie and some exceptional young talent in the likes of Nelson Law, Emosi Ugavule, Kunro Kalo, Ben Hennaway and Joe Meninga. This is stepping stone for the Vanuatu national side and we will use this event to introduce ourselves to the greater rugby league playing public and then hope to establish connections which will see us able to then play a full 13 a side international in Port Vila in late 2012” Campbell said.

The full Vanuatu National Rugby League side to compete at the International Rugby League 9s in Sydney on February 4th 2012 is:
(Player / Club / Origin)
Ben Hennaway (Easts Tigers Brisbane / Tanna)
Joe Meninga (Sunshine Coast Sea Eagles / Tanna)
James Wood (Tweed Heads Seagulls / Avanatari, Malo)
Nelson Law (Tatoko /Port Vila, Efate)
Paul O’Neill (Brothers Townsville / Port Orly, Espirito Santo)
Kunro Kalo (Caboolture Rugby / Port Vila, Efate)
Robert Congoo (Sunshine Coast Sea Eagles / Tanna)
Jardine Bobongie (Mackay Cutters / Tanna)
Daniel Backo (Unattached / Itakoma, Tongoa)
Apisai Loaloadravu (Yenda Blueeheelers / Port Vila, Efate)
Mewo Varasia (Griffith Black and Whites / Port Vila, Efate)
Jason Pakoasongi (Aelan Warriors / Port Vila, Efate)
John Nash (Noosa Pirates / Epi & Tongoa Islands)
Emosi Ugavule (Manikoso / Port Vila, Efate)
Samuela Loaloadravu (Yenda Blueheelers / Port Vila, Efate)
Stand By players:
Robert Franklin (Bulldogs / Port Vila, Efate)
Herbie Henderson (Santo Rugby / Luganville, Espirito Santo)
Josh Hennaway (Unattached / Tanna)

The Vanuatu Rugby League would like acknowledge and thank the generous support from sponsors Club Aqua Santo, Street Strider Australia, JPW Building, Auto Dis Ford Port Vila, Rugby League Player Protection, KooGa and DNA Nutrition, of which has allowed the team to travel to Australia and compete at such an event. It is hoped that following on from a successful campaign that more local and international companies will see the Vanuatu Rugby League and Vanuatu national rugby league team as a potential business partner, of whom can share great cross branding opportunities.

To show your support for the Vanuatu Rugby League, please visit their facebook page.