USA Youth Hawks Welcome Rugby League Superstar Junior Vaivai as Assistant Coach

Vaivai's Appointment Marks a Major Boost for Grassroots Development in U.S. Rugby League.
USA Youth Hawks Welcome Rugby League Superstar Junior Vaivai as Assistant Coach

Jacksonville, FL, 6.14.24 – The United States Association of Rugby League (USARL) announced today that Rugby League superstar Junior Vaivai will join the USA Youth Hawks as one of the assistant coaches, bringing his extensive experience, knowledge, and passion for the sport to our young athletes.

Junior Vaivai, who represented the USA Hawks from 2016 to 2019, joins the coaching staff with a rich background in Rugby League, including stints with South Sydney Rabbitohs, Penrith Panthers in the NRL, and Hull KR in the Super League. Vaivai was also instrumental in helping Toulouse Olympique gain promotion to the Super League in 2021.

Vaivai's motivation to take on the coaching role stems from the potential he witnessed during a recent rugby league clinic in Utah. He was inspired by the enthusiasm and talent in the youth programs, both men's and women's, and believes that grassroots development is crucial for the sport's growth in America.

"What motivated me to take on the coaching role with the Youth Hawks is the potential I saw when I recently went over to Utah and conducted a rugby league clinic. The talent and enthusiasm among the youth, both men and women, was incredible. Rugby league's strength lies in its grassroots, and the way these programs are being run is a great start to the growth of the sport in America," Vaivai said.

As an assistant coach, Vaivai plans to focus on teaching the fundamentals of the game, such as basic techniques and understanding the game itself. He emphasizes the importance of building personal connections within the team, understanding each player's personality and how they respond to encouragement or criticism. 

"First of all, I am very grateful for the opportunity to work with the USA Youth Hawks. I am looking forward to collaborating with George, Mel, Johnny, Eugene, and Vake. There is so much potential here, and I am eager to contribute to the growth of rugby league. Everyone involved in the sport, from coaches to players, plays a crucial role in its development. With many hands, the work becomes lighter," added Vaivai.

George Tupou, USARL Inc. Board of Directors member and head coach of the USA Youth Hawks, expressed his excitement about Vaivai's addition to the coaching staff: "We are thrilled to welcome Junior Vaivai to the USA Youth Hawks. His experience and passion for the sport will be invaluable to our team. Along with Vake Paea and Eugene Tukumoeatu, our coaching staff is stronger than ever, and we are excited about the future."

Looking ahead, Vaivai envisions significant growth for the USA Youth Hawks program. With the right support from the community, he believes there could be multiple youth teams across America within five years. He hopes to see similar enthusiasm in other states to help grow the grassroots of the game.

Vaivai's aspirations for his players extend beyond the field. He wants each team member to continuously work on their craft and strive to be the best versions of themselves. He encourages aspiring rugby league players and supporters in the USA to learn and understand the game, as this passion enhances their enjoyment and involvement.

Vaivai's addition to the coaching team marks a pivotal moment for the USA Youth Hawks, reinforcing the organization's commitment to nurturing young talent and providing a pathway for their development in the sport.

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