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Tagicakibau excited by 'huge catchment of talent' available to him in new role

Fri, 10/09/2021, 4:50 am
Declan Armstrong
by Declan Armstrong
Sailosi Tagicakibau in action for the Wasps. Photo: SkySports
Sailosi Tagicakibau in action for the Wasps. Photo: SkySports

A key piece to the Two Blues coaching jigsaw has been unveiled this week, with Samoan international Sailosi Tagicakibau announced as the Western Sydney Head Coach for 2022.

Tagicakibau joins the Western Sydney club following a hugely successful stint as Director of Colts and Head Coach at Gordon. Under Tagicakibau’s guidance in 2021, Gordon Colts were first in the W McMahon Shield, Bill Simpson Shield and fourth in the Shell Trophy before the competitions cancellation. 

The 38-year-old believes his in-depth understanding of successful Colts development will be hugely beneficial to the Two Blues. 

“The further I went in the recruitment process the more I wanted the job and believed I could make a difference,” he said. 

“I’ve taken a lot away from my experience at Gordon, but more than anything it has given me a strong understanding of how important Colts programming is in fostering consistent talent for a club.

“We are blessed with a huge catchment of talent throughout all of Western Sydney and ensuring that we have a clear pathway for these juniors will ensure a strong foundation for this club.”

Tagicakibau was also quick to recognise his proud Polynesian heritage, a factor he trusts will be influential in gaining the respect and understanding of his playing group. 

Growing up in South Auckland, Sailosi’s playing career was predominantly set in Europe, making 191 appearances for the London Irish and Wasps between 2005 and 2016. Tagicakibau also forged a successful international career for Samoa, featuring in both the 2007 and 2011 Rugby World Cups, the latter played in his home country of New Zealand. 

Tagicakibau’s proud Polynesian heritage is a factor he trusts will be influential in gaining the respect and understanding of his new Two Blues squad. 

“What excites me is how much untapped potential and cultural diversity is available to us at the club,” he said. 

“I feel that I can relate to a lot of these players, from a playing perspective but more importantly from a cultural one.

“There’s a huge Polynesian influence here in the West and with that comes some challenges, but more importantly, raw sporting talent.

“Being able to relate and connect with the cultural side of the Polynesian community will hopefully unlock some of the talent at our doorstep and prove to these kids they can overcome any adversity.”

The coaching announcements have not been limited to Tagicakibau in recent weeks, with the Two Blues confirming a host of familiar Shute Shield faces are set to join a completely revamped coaching unit in 2022. 

Notably, the club has announced former Penrith and Sydney University representative, Liam Winton, as Two Blues Assistant Coach for next season.

Tagicakbau admits Winton’s recent premiership-winning run with Gordon in 2020 will instil an undeniably beneficial winning mentality upon his playing group. 

“Liam was a big decisive factor for me and is a massive signing for the club,” he said. 

“Having worked with him recently at Gordon, I know the experience and knowledge he possesses and how important that can be to our group. 

“Liam’s a proud Western Sydney boy and I’m sure he’ll want his local rugby catchment to be successful into the future.”

While the 2022 Charter Hall Shute Shield season remains months away, it is clear Tagicakibau has a roadmap for how he wants his first year at the helm to eventuate. 

With a strong focus on grassroots talent and a playing culture that prioritises inclusion, the newly appointed Head Coach believes success on the field will inevitably eventuate. 

“The Two Blues recent troubles have been well documented however, I think this new coaching group has the necessary program in place to lift the club into the Shute Shield conversation,” he said. 

“I want to foster a program which celebrates our young talent and entices players from other clubs, especially those who may call Western Sydney home, back into our ranks. 

“There is so much pride and history at this rugby club. If we can harness that and utilise the amazing resources we have here I am sure the success won’t be far away.”