Friday 12 November 2021 Apia Samoa. Lakapi Samoa has clarified its position with regards to Manu 7’s and 15’s star Johnny Vaili, saying that for now, he has been removed from the High Performance Unit, including the 15’s and 7’s programmes.
In an interview with Chief Executive Officer Faleomavaega Vincent Fepuleai this afternoon, he said there have been many issues arising from Vaili over the recent years and the name of the union has been tainted.
“There have been many issues, including things that happened in the recent tour to New Zealand,” said Faleomavaega, “so for now, he has been removed from all programmes of the Union”.
“Both head coaches, for 7’s and 15’s have shown concerns regarding this player,” said the CEO.
Regarding Vaili’s recent appearances in the District Court for assault, Faleomavaega said the Union will deal with that after the court process is complete.
“We have to be careful not to character assassinate the player, and await the final decision of the court”.
Asked if the sevens star will be playing the Vodafone National 7’s series that starts this weekend, Faleomavaega said they are hoping the clubs will heed to the position taken by Lakapi Samoa and will deal with the decision if they have to.
“We hope to encourage the clubs to do the right thing,” he said.
Faleomavaega said there have been players with disciplinary issues in the past such who have been banned by the Union, and do return to continue their careers after a stand-down period where they have been able to regroup and refocus their lives.
The Lakapi Samoa CEO said High Performance Unit programmes of the union also includes character building and life skills, and not just rugby skills.
“If they can leave here as better men, then that is something we also aspire to”.
The Vodafone National 7s Series kicks off at ACP Marist Stadium this morning with 24 men’s and 4 women’s teams.