Former Bristol centre Fatialofa’s role, which is full-time and based in England, will see him working closely with the nine-strong team of Personal Development Managers (PDMs) employed by the Rugby Players’ Associations (RPA). It follows the signing of a formal Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the two organisations in November 2017.
Salvaudon and Rokocoko will be based in France, with Rokocoko fulfilling his role outside of his rugby commitments with Racing 92. The appointments will ensure that Pacific Island rugby players based in Europe will be better supported than ever before.
As well as assisting players as they adjust to life abroad, the PRMs will strengthen connections with local rugby organisations including the Rugby Players’ Association (RPA) in England and Provale (France) to support players as they look to establish successful careers away from rugby and navigate the many issues that arise while living and playing abroad.
Pacific Rugby Players CEO Aayden Clarke says the appointments are “somewhat overdue” but “offer massive benefits for both current and future players.”
“It’s imperative we have good people with a solid understanding of living requirements and opportunities based in these regions to guide, advise and prepare the players,” he says.
“Junior has a great understanding of not only top level professional rugby but also the lower divisions. He’s a huge asset for players across the UK and will be a brilliant fit with the support we plan to offer.”
Junior Fatialofa says “I know from my own experience that coming to a new country far from home can be a daunting experience so it’s important that players are supported in the right way. Pacific Islanders contribute a tremendous amount to the game in England, both on and off the field, and I can’t wait to get started working with them on a daily basis so that they continue to flourish.”
PRP has supported many rugby players both in the Pacific and overseas since its inception in 2013. As well as being the official representative of the players of Fiji, Tonga and Samoa in contractual and legal issues, the organisation offers a comprehensive education programme in the Pacific Islands to prepare players for life overseas and in professional rugby.
Clarke says while the theoretical preparation goes a long way in helping players adjust to their new surroundings, now having a quality support person and resourced programme on the ground in these regions is “unparalleled”.
“The support of Player Relationship Managers goes a long way in ensuring the new lives and careers players and their families are building in Europe get off to the best start possible. It will also help them to avoid many of the issues that have occurred in the past through lack of meaningful support” he adds.
Former London Irish player Seilala Mapusua says “I know from my time in the UK that having support like this would have been really helpful for me and my family. This is a game changer for Pacific Island players of all levels.”