Queensland Reds legends Digby Ioane and Radike Samo are backing Queensland on a formal trade mission to Samoa and Fiji.
The 2011 Super Rugby champions are hosting sports clinics in the Pacific islands this week as part of a delegation from Trade and Investment Queensland.
The pair, along with former Queensland Reds assistant coach Steve Meehan, today held three clinics in the Samoan capital of Apia and will attend formal business receptions in Samoa and Fiji as sports ambassadors for Queensland.
Ioane – the first Samoan to play for the Wallabies – was mobbed by students of Nuuausala College as the group led a clinic for the school’s Under 18 team.
Both former players were trailblazers for the thousands of Queenslanders of Pasifika heritage who play rugby.
QRU Chief Executive Officer David Hanham said the sporting ambassadors added real value to Queensland’s Pacific trade and tourism engagement.
“Rugby Union is a religion for these proud island nations and the Queensland Rugby Union has a history with them dating back to the 1950s,” he said.
“Sport diplomacy is critical to helping Queensland and Australia boost trade and strategic relations. Queensland’s trade relations with the Pacific nations are valued at almost $1 billion a year.
“This is a terrific initiative by the Queensland Government and Trade and Investment Queensland.
“Last year the State Government supported the Oceania Sevens at Ballymore, which was a great networking opportunity for Pacific-facing businesses along with great rugby.”
“The Reds will again be playing a match in Fiji this year and we are working with the State and Federal Governments on additional sport engagement opportunities.”
Trade and Investment Queensland CEO Justin McGowan said the Sunshine State had deep, longstanding connections in the Pacific through business, education and sport.
He said the Trade Mission, including the rugby skills clinics, were aimed at further consolidating Queensland’s position as Australia’s gateway to the Pacific.
“The universal language of sport has built strong ties with Queensland which has been home to training camps and friendly games for local teams,” he said.
“Our people-to-people links are a living bridge between Queensland and the Pacific which we value highly. Many sports professionals who proudly play for Queensland have a Pacific Heritage. It is great to be here in the Pacific to strengthen those relationships in both sport and business.”
QRU#1239, Wallaby#818. 89 Super Rugby caps for the Reds, Force and Crusaders. 35 caps for the Wallabies. 2011 Super Rugby champion (scored one try in the final)
QRU#1241, Wallaby#789. 69 Super Rugby caps for the Reds, Brumbies and Rebels 23 caps for the Wallabies. 2011 Super Rugby champion.
Former Queensland Reds assistant coach. Former head coach of Bath, including the 2008 European Challenge Cup win.