Player Profile: Ben Volavola
Photo: SPA Images
“He lets us express ourselves,” says Ben Volavola, when I ask the mercurial Southern Districts fullback to name the secret ingredient head coach Cameron Blades has sprinkled into the soil at Forshaw Park this year. “If we think something’s on, he tells us to take it and as long as he can see that we’re having a go, he’s more than happy.”
The former Endeavour Sports High schoolboy returned to his junior rugby roots in early 2011 after taking his first steps in grade with West Harbour. However, trying to emulate the 2010 semi-final feats of predecessors such as Radike Samo and Sitaleki Timani was a big challenge for Ben and his inexperienced young team mates and a stint back in 2nd Grade proved fruitful for both the club and it’s promising protégés.
“We didn’t have a great season in first grade,” the 21-year old recalls. “But coming down to second grade later in the year gave us some confidence. We really wanted to get something out of the season because of the success the club had the year before and winning the second grade Premiership certainly gave us some momentum coming into this year.”
That raw potential has blossomed superbly this season under Blades’ guiding hand and the former Wallaby prop feels that Premiership success, coupled with the naturally maturing sands of time, has helped Ben to fulfil that early promise on his return to 1st Grade in recent months. “Consistency was a bit of an issue for him last year and only time and experience fixes that. He brings a nice balance to our backline, has a great kicking game and is a good goal kicker. He’s just so gifted skill wise and athletically.”
Having already represented the Australian U20’s, the future looks bright for Ben and also the Rebels but for now, his only concern is finals footy. “We have a lot of youth and a lot of talent and I think we can surprise the teams that are left and go all the way.”
Original version published in Rugby News Volume 26 Issue 19 on September 8th, 2012