DARLINGTON Mowden Park’s most experienced player Talite Vaioleti has an extra incentive to be fit for Saturday’s promotion playoff at home to Ampthill.
Two fellow Tongans are player-coaches with the Bedfordshire club, who boast an impressive coaching set-up, headed by former Wales fly half Paul Turner.
No 8 Maama Molitika and hooker Villi Ma’asi both scored tries as Ampthill beat London Irish Wild Geese 40- 24 on Saturday to ensure second place in their first season in National Two South.
Victory at The Northern Echo Arena would give them their fourth promotion in eight years and as they also include former Bedford prop Sam Walsh they clearly have much more experience than Mowden, for whom Vaioleti is the only player over 24.
He took a knock in Saturday’s 28-24 win against Macclesfield but will not want to miss the clash with his fellow ex-Tonga internationals.
Ma’asi, 38, spent seven seasons with Cornish Pirates, during which he represented Tonga in the Rugby World Cup before joining Leeds in the Premiership in 2007. He moved on to London Welsh before joining Ampthill prior to last season.
Molitika, 39, is a 6ft 5in veteran of 22 internationals and more than 40 appearances in the Heineken Cup for Celtic Warriors, Harlequins and Cardiff Blues. Paul Turner is a highly experienced operator who was player/coach at Sale, backs coach at Harlequins, head coach at Newport Gwent Dragons for six years and attack coach for Wasps.
Mowden have booked former Scotland and Newcastle Falcons lock Doddie Weir as a guest speaker for those taking advantage of President’s Room hospitality.