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Dumped Schwalger to fight Samoan rugby

Published: 6:25AM Friday May 25, 2012 Source: Fairfax

Chiefs hooker Mahonri Schwalger believes he will never play for Samoa again after being punished for speaking out about mismanagement of the team at last year's Rugby World Cup.

But that won't prevent the 32-year-old World Cup captain and other discarded players continuing to seek change in Samoan rugby, which he says suffers from political interference.

New Samoa coach Stephen Betham has dumped Schwalger, Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu, Alesani Tuilagi, George Stowers, Sailosi Tagicakibau, Filipo Levi and Seilala Mapusua for the Pacific Nations Cup and the one-off home test against Scotland.

Schwalger and other senior players spoke out after the World Cup at the way top Samoan rugby officials conducted themselves during the tournament.

"After that incident last year after the World Cup I knew it was going to come, but that's the sacrifice I've got to take to make sure the future of our rugby in Samoa will be in better hands," Schwalger said. "At this stage I'm not really affected by it and the only thing I'm pretty disappointed about is that I've got a few of my senior players from last year who got the same punishment."

Schwalger said the team management was not being honest with him.

"They've gone to the media and said some other stuff, but for me I don't really worry about that. As you can see, that's how Samoa run their rugby."

Schwalger said he and his fellow senior players initially thought they had achieved something by speaking out with a new CEO of Samoa Rugby appointed, along with a new team manager and coach.

"But if you're going to make changes you've got to make sure the top is also changed - the chairman.

"It's pretty disappointing because we've got our prime minister running it, and this must be the only country that has a prime minister involved in running the sport.

"So there are battles we can't win, but as long as we get it out there and hopefully the IRB can step in and help out."

Schwalger said no country could afford to have a coach who was controlled by the administration at the top.

"Those guys are always worrying about themselves instead of worrying about what is best for the future of Samoan rugby," he said.

Schwalger said while he had done his dash working within the system he hoped the rugby world and the IRB, which contributed funding, would recognise the massive problem that existed within Samoan rugby.

"I've done my part and at this stage I'm now going to concentrate on the Chiefs and hopefully we can win this thing [Super Rugby]."

But it was sad for Samoan rugby, which was the pride and passion of the Samoan people and he would resume his campaign in the future.

"It is pretty sad to see our rugby being controlled by these guys who are pretty arrogant about themselves and not worried about what is best for the future of Samoan rugby.

"I'm not going to stop. I'm going to still try my best to get rid of these guys. I'm not going to walk away."