It is sad to read the interview from Tevita Vaikona and seeing this player coming from the ranks to stardom in the Rugby arena and his experience and awards has been majorly overlooked.
The issue he raised in his interview about Club or Country is the reality of this professional sport today. Tonga's value as a country is pennies compared to other sporting giants as explained by Tevita Vaikona. Numerous local talents from Tonga are being pouched by Rugby League and Union but mostly by NZ and Australia. The UK and Japan are the post eras of retiring super stars from the All Blacks and Wallabies because of the amount of money gained is far more what Australia or New Zealand can offer.
Rugby Union has changed since its amateur status to professionalism. You see more younger players selected over more experienced players or to put it in a more business-like sense as more potential to keep over the years. As for the Tongan selectors in picking the squad, it had no clue of adding this as a factor but rather a conscience that would only suit their own. Which baffles a lot of Tongan Rugby fans, why Tevita Vaikona was overlooked? It was noted that the selectors were not named, which confuses me because their hidden secrecy may mean in another way as in, there were no selectors at all. I would be concerned whether these selectors are picking upon future prospects for other players to catapult them internationally over performance of the team as a whole, which is very selfish and a big misjudgement on their part.
I do believe Tevita Vaikona is on the right track with encouraging other Tongans trying to find a prospects with Rugby abroad, to also learn other trades to back them up in case of injuries or unplanned health scares. A life time for an Elite Rugby Professional would be approximately 10 years maximum and bonuses if it does go more than 15 years. However, during this period the amount of money collected and managed well, will set some super stars for retirement at a very young age. In Tevita's case seems similar and he has used Rugby to his advantage but not the other way round. I congratulate a role model that other young Tongans looking for a prospect in Rugby to follow. Maybe, they may not have the academia that Tevita fortunes but each international player should make the most of what Rugby has to offer them on a platter.
With the Tongan Rugby Union Committee, if there is any? They should push to register of all local players in their local grass roots clubs in writing and make Law for the TRU that a transfer fee to other international clubs and also a patriotic fee (for players if choose to play for 'Ikale Tahi) be mandatory for all Tongan Rugby Club players. The money can be collected as revenue or a fund to pay these players who are playing for club and want to play for country. But just like Tevita Vaikona has stated that over rides all these suggestions, is honesty. Which recently the TRU is surely lacking, which would mean everyone for themselves and Good luck.
ionaxe [at] yahoo [dot] co [dot] uk