By SIMON ABANA
RECENTLY appointed rugby coach Ilivasi Tabua has taken on a challenge in helping Solomon Islands reach its full potential.
The Fijian-born Australian former international was officially appointed last month by the Solomon Islands Rugby Federation (SIRUF) to lead the national U-18 national 7s team in the Olympic qualifiers later this year.
Solomon Islands is considered as the dark horse of Pacific rugby and the 53-year-old is here to help raise the level closer to tier one nations.
The former hard-tackling Wallaby winger who once coached the Fijian national team to the IRB 2017 Rugby World Cup said Solomon Islands can excel in rugby despite its soccer dominance.
“Rugby has always been a part of me. Not only have I seen the world, but it has given me a lot and I want to give back.
"Soccer has always been the game but it doesn't mean rugby can't actually excel.
"You have the Polynesian island group and you have the Melanesian island group and the Micronesian - it's a great mix but how can we harness that and put a pathway system in place,” the former Fijian coach said.
There are already signs of success in recent international tournaments where the national 7s side caught the eyes of the rugby world with some impressive performances.
The closest was at last year’s Pacific Mini Games where the national side were one try away from booking a 2018 Rugby Sevens World Cup spot.
SIRUF national development manager and national team coach Alivereti Mocelutu speaks highly of his fellow country man.
“He's got a lot of knowledge, he's been our mentor.
"We want to bring that experience so we've been doing a lot of work and we can see the progress," Aliverti explains.
The former Wallabies wish his presence among our young rugby players does have an impact on their life.
"They see me and think 'If he could do it, we could do it as well.
"I want to actually see these young people achieve, and take on those values and principles because it is more than a game, it is about life," Tabua added.