Poching named as Toa Samoa coach

Leeds Rhinos assistant coach Willie Poching has been named as Head Coach of the Toa Samoa side for the 2009 Pacific Cup this Autumn.

Poching, who played for Samoa in the 1995 World Cup and captained the side in the tournament in 2000, was assistant coach to John Ackland in last years World Cup in Australia and has now been handed the Head Coach’s role.

Commenting on his appointment Poching said: “I have always been immensely proud to represent Samoa and it is an honour to be named Head Coach. John Ackland has done a great job over the past four years to revive Samoan Rugby League and now hopefully I can build on the work he has done and continue what he has started. The players that he brought on board like Ali Lauitiiti and Tony Puletua will still be involved and we will be using these high profile guys lto attract more players to the squad.

“We will name a training squad in the next few weeks and I think people will be surprised by a few of the names who have come forward to represent Samoa.”

Toa Samoa face a play off match against the Cook Islands on the 17th October in Cairns with the winner earning a place in the newly formatted Pacific Cup, which will take place in Papua New Guinea. If Samoa beat the Cook Islands they will face Fiji in the semi finals with the winner taking on the winner of the other clash between Papua New Guinea and Tonga. The winner of the Final will not only be crowned Pacific Cup Champions but will also earn a place in the Gillette Four Nations in 2010 to face Rugby League super powers Australia, New Zealand and England in Australia.

Poching admits that the incentive of a place at the top table of world Rugby League is a massive motivation for his squad. He added: “As players, all we have ever asked for was regular fixtures for Samoa. The new international programme stretching out to the World Cup in 2013 in England is fantastic for the developing nations and means that we can plan for the future. There has been an emergence of young Samoan talent in the NRL and Super League and hopefully we can capitalise on that.

“For a small country, we do extremely well in sport and not just Rugby League and Rugby Union. There are Samoans involved in sport across the globe from sumo to the NFL and hopefully, if we can produce a successful national side, it will really help put Samoa on the map,” added Poching.

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