Waratahs lay out the welcome mat to Tonga
January 17, 2005

NSW Rugby is throwing it's weight behind the development of Rugby in the Pacific, with the Waratahs playing host the Tongan national coaching team.

Team manager Sione Petelo, Backs Coaches Semi Taupeaafe and Tevita Va'enuku and Video Analyst Nafe Tufui kicked off their visit to Sydney this morning, watching the Waratahs go through a searching strength and skills session.

They'll spend the next 12 days observing Head Coach Ewen McKenzie and his team as they continue their preparation for the 2005 Super 12.

"For a long time, NSW has enjoyed a strong connection with Pacific Islands Rugby," McKenzie said.

"We're delighted to be able to foster this friendship even further by welcoming the Tongan national coaching team to Sydney."

While in Sydney, the quartet will also spend time with the NSW Academy, learning about talent identification and player development.

"One of the key objectives (of the tour) is to learn more about development," Sione Petelo said.

"We are currently preparing for a development tour of Australia and the first qualifiers for the 2007 Rugby World Cup, so learning the best way to bring on our young players is very important."

Petelo places added value on what exposure to a fully professional outfit will bring to Tongan Rugby.

"I believe our coaches will gain a lot from observing the structures in place at the Waratahs in their Super 12 preparation."

The Tongan National team will return to Sydney in two months time, taking on NSW A at Aussie Stadium on March 13.

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