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No Stopping Sewabu

Koli Sewabu at Work

Interview and Article by Emma Gribben

After retiring in 2008, Freyberg Coach Koli Sewabu has high aspirations for the team and his future coaching career.

Sewabu brings years of experience to the side. Before moving to New Zealand Sewabu played for clubs in France, Japan, and the UK. "It was an awesome and eye-opening experience and I cherish those days as I am not sure whether I will have the opportunity to experience that again." For Sewabu it was not only the experience of playing rugby in other countries but experiencing different cultures, learning new languages, and being apart of their lives.

Sewabu has also played 36 games for his home country Fiji, 27 of those being test matches. He also had the opportunity to represent Fiji at the 1999 and 2003 Rugby World Cups. "It was a unique experience, one of my dreams I achieved but to do it twice, well it's hard to find the words to explain how awesome it was". Playing rugby at professional levels made it easy for Sewabu to slot into the Turbos when he represented the side during their 2007 season.

After retiring, Sewabu concentrated on his transition from being a professional rugby player to becoming a coach. Rather then diving straight into the deep end he took a break but was approached by Feilding whom he ended up coaching for the past 2 seasons. This year he decided to stop and concentrate on finishing his degree in Sport and Exercise Science majoring in Sport Management and Coaching at Massey University.

However with an already full on schedule he was approached by Freyberg and although he would have said no, Sewabu says his involvement in the Pacifica community over the past 2 years made him feel obliged in some way to give back to his people. "I want to help build the profiles of players, especially within the Pacific Island communities, as there are many talented athletes who have the potential to go far. I want to be able to offer them pathways so they can get there."

Sewabu's goal for Freyberg is to finish within the top six. Having completed the first round and now being situated at the bottom of the table, Sewabu feels it's funny to say but the scoreboard results do not actually reflect how Freyberg has actually been playing as a team. "Our challenge as a team was to get fit and to improve our skills which we have slowly achieved, which has seen our game improve in most areas."

Many of the players in the side are young, and have only been playing rugby for a few years. Sewabu's philosophy is to create a stronger learning environment within the side and help the players organise themselves. "I try to teach them game preparation, both physically and mentally. Self discipline is also important but we also have to have fun and enjoy what we are doing."

Sewabu's personal goal is to go back to Fiji and coach the national team at the 2015 and 2019 Rugby World Cup. At present he is trying to build up his credentials and is building a strong resume having been given the opportunity to coach and assist with the Manawatu U18s and U20s. "I have learnt a lot from these opportunities and also from the Turbos coaches which will hopefully carry me through and help me achieve my goals."

For the remainder of the season Sewabu is trying to get the side to play more structured rugby. "Pacific Islanders' love to run with the ball, so if we can get some structures into our game then we can play well against some of the stronger teams".

This weekend Freyberg faces a tough competition against Kia Toa. Sewabu says that if Freyberg rolls out with the right attitude, as they have been showing in their last few games, the side will get to the stage where they know they can compete against the bigger boys and the results should start to show.


Results from last week, May 15th:

Kia Toa 30 v COB 10
Feilding 13 v Freyberg 10
Old Boys Marist 21 v FOB Oroua 19
Te Kawau 46 v Dannevirke 9
Varsity 96 v Linton 7

Games for this week are as follows:

Linton v Te Kawau (PGG Wrightson Game of The Week)
FOB Oroua v Varsity
COB v Old Boys Marist
Dannevirke v Feilding
Freyberg v Kia Toa



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