Westoe aiming to give Lome Fa'atau a winning farewell

Thursday's Durham Senior Cup final looks like being the final competitive outing for Westoe's Samoan international Lome Fa'atau

Shaun Botterill/Getty Images Lome Fa'atau of Samoa is tackled by Bryan Habana
Lome Fa'atau of Samoa is tackled by Bryan Habana

Westoe hope to give Samoan international Lome Fa’atau a fitting send-off by winning Thursday’s Durham Senior Cup final against Billingham.

The 6.30pm kick-off at Durham City RFC is expected to be the last competitive outing for the 38-year-old, who was capped 40 times by Samoa and played in two Rugby World Cups.

The full-back will also step down as backs coach as long-time club man David Haswell comes in, director of rugby Andy Howells explaining: “The Cup final will probably be Lome’s last game for us, with David taking over on the coaching staff.

“Lome will still do fitness coaching and be available to play the odd game if need be, but he says his body is worn out and he can’t play every week so that will be him done in terms of that.

“He has been good for us and hopefully we can send him off with a trophy.”

Welcoming Haswell to the staff of a youthful squad which consolidated National Three North status this season, Howells added: “David will work alongside Scott Powell on the coaching side and we are very much looking forward to that.

“He knows the club well. He has worked with a lot of our youngsters and he understands what is needed here. He is a very intelligent lad who knows the game inside out and will bring a lot to the role.”

Going the homegrown route and banking on a strong youth section to provide the bedrock of the club, Howells said: “Our philosophy is to bring on our own youngsters and we are doing that now.

“We have struggled at times this season because of the naivety of the players, but you are always going to have an element of that.

“At other times they have been brilliant, but the biggest problem is that week-in, week-out consistency.

“Hopefully, next year we can deliver that and we have to finish in the top six with the way the leagues are changing.

“National Two is being split into four regional divisions, so it is a big opportunity for clubs to get into it next season.

“The boys have improved massively, though, and we have that club ethos now. That was always the aim, to get local lads playing with one or two guys topping up from outside.

“I think rugby is suffering in the North East with teams bringing in too many players from elsewhereand I have gone away from that.

“I just want local lads who have an affinity for the club and if they end up moving up the divisions with other clubs then that is great.”

The fact there will be a Durham Senior Cup final at all this season is something of a triumph given aborted attempts to complete the competition in recent seasons, although the timing and venue of the showpiece match have proved controversial for Howells.

The Welshman said: “We have waited two weeks for the county after finishing our league season, which I am not very happy about. We wanted to get it played earlier, but the county insisted it was played in May.

“It is a shame some clubs have finished with the competition and it would be great to see all the teams competing properly, but what can you do? We can only play the teams we are drawn against and who want to play us, so hopefully it will be a good final.”

He added: “It is hard to keep the focus of the players and to get them into training when the league season has been over for so long and I have no idea why they are so insistent about it being in May.

“I am actually pretty angry about it, but that is the way the county are and we just have to get on with it.

“The fact the final is being played at all is a step in the right direction after a few years where we did not reach a conclusion and I am all for helping out the county -but I would have much preferred to have it earlier,and we can’t even train on Wednesdays because that is when the county team trains.

“I just find it difficult they want it all their own way and also on the venue for the final we wanted to have it at either our place or Billingham.

“We have ended up at a neutral venue at Durham City despite Westoe being willing to toss a coin for a home game, but we just have to take it and put it out of our minds.” Having beaten Billingham 26-10 away and 41-10 at home in the league, Howells said: “Most of our players are available but some are cup-tied so we are going to put some youngsters out to see how they go, and it will be a mixture of a team.

“I would expect Billingham to move the ball around, and they are a good running side. If it is a dry surface it will suit them, but upfront I expect us to be too strong. We will just have to see how it goes and it is a different kettle of fish in the cup.”

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