Newly-appointed Malaysia 15s rugby head coach Rodney So’oialo will conduct a scouting programme here in search of potential players for the national team.
The 41-year-old former All Blacks captain will be joined by Malaysia Rugby director of coaching Lee Nyuk Fah in the talent search from Jan 14.
Sibu Division Rugby Union chief coach Michael Ting said this is a golden opportunity for Sarawakian players to be spotted and make their mark with the national squad.
“Indeed, this is a historic event as far as rugby sport is concerned. So get ready and be prepared,” he said.
Ting added that players from rugby clubs from throughout the state, especially top rugby playing divisions – Kuching, Sibu, Miri, Bintulu, Betong, and Mukah – are expected to converge here for the selection.
Ting said only five players from each club would be shortlisted for the selection process.
He said players must prove they deserve to don the national colours.
“The players will have to showcase their talents, prowess, endurance, and flexibility (during the selection) to impress the coaches,” he added.
Ting said Sibu is the gateway to the central region of Sarawak which makes it easier for the players to come and take part in the selection exercise.
The tentative programme for So’oialo’s four-day visit will include game formation (lineout, scrummage, breakdown, attack, and defence) at the Prison Field on Jan 14.
Fitness tests and 10-a-side game will be carried out at Stadium Tun Zaidi on Jan 15 and 16.
The programme also includes a workshop for coaches, scheduled to take place at RH Hotel.
Players aged 19 and above who stand at a height of at least 178cm are eligible to participate.
So’oialo is an accomplished rugby player and was most recently a coach and director of rugby at Trinity College Kandy, Sri Lanka, coach at Verona in Italy and a coach at Tawa Rugby Club in Wellington, New Zealand.
He played for the New Zealand Hurricanes in the Super Rugby competition and racked up 62 test appearances for the All Blacks between 2002 and 2009, mostly as an eighth man.
He also won the Commonwealth and World Cup Sevens for New Zealand.
He was appointed Malaysia 15s rugby head coach on Sept 23, replacing fellow countryman Brad Mika who was in charge since 2018.