Our flag carriers for the Paris Rugby Leg are leaving the country this afternoon.
Yesterday, the Manu Samoa Sevens had a final training session at the Hockey Field at Tuanaimato.
The chosen twelve were named at a dinner which was held at Orator on Thursday night by the Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi.
After two weeks of preparing for Paris, Head Coach Damian McGrath is positive they have selected the best players to do the job.
“This squad is the best one we’ve had all year,” he said.
“We’re missing Phoenix Hunapo-Nofoa as he has some family problems to attend to in New Zealand and I know that family always come first not only for Samoa but also for the team.
“But we are very lucky to have Etiuefa Fiavaai to replace him.
“I am very pleased with the team we have now, and I just want to get through this leg without any injuries. Our boys are ready for the job.”
As this is the last leg before the Olympics, Damian trusts that it will be a hard-hitting tournament for the boys.
“It’s going to be really tough, and I know the other teams are bringing in their best players because it’s the last one before the Olympics. I have seen New Zealand bringing in their best squad, also for the Fiji team and the South Africans, so it’s going to be really hard. But I am confident that these boys are the best ones to represent us in this leg.”
However, he has a lot of faith in the squad and he believes that they are the best ones to do the job.
“We have consistency in selecting our players and that allows our players to play to the system that we practice to the best of their ability.”
Preparations for Paris had been going so far, said Damian.
“We’ve had a terrific two weeks,” he said.
“And it’s always easier for the coach when the boys pass on the messages you normally pass on. And for the past two weeks I’ve listened and witnessed that they are saying the right things and doing the right things and they understand what we are trying to achieve.
“And for Brian and I, it’s such a really pleasing thing to see. I know it’s a lot of pressure on them, but we can see they are trying really hard to become the best they could be.”
Damian said that they haven’t got a new game plan worked out for this tournament.
However, he said that they are trying the best they can to be better than the last tournament.
“There is nothing to worry about; we are just going to play to our strengths.”
Errors and mistakes made during the games was the team’s biggest enemy throughout the year, said Damian.
“Our errors and mistakes always led up to other teams getting more chances than us. But we have worked so hard to better in that area and encouraged the boys to make no errors at all so that it will allow us to play much better than the last time. We’ve worked so hard on our basic skills and I know that this team will do a good job for us.”
Attempts to try and bring in some of Samoa’s sons who are under contract overseas have been unsuccessful, however, Damian said that our country need not worry about anything.
“I think this is the team that will take us to the Olympics and I am very confident. They’ve done really well and they’ve gone really better in the past few weeks and I am sure that they will give it their best.”
In his last remarks, Damian once again urges the country to give them their full support and have faith in them.
“I know the expectation is really high,” he said.
“The Prime Minister said that it will be good if we win the cup for the country. And we also want the same thing as well, but we also need to understand that we are not the only country who is going into the leg with the desire to win the cup.
“All the other teams are bringing in their best to win this leg. But all I want is for our country to see and recognise the efforts made by these boys and that they’ve worked and trained really hard to get better. And I do really hope that our country can get behind our boys because we really need their support.”
This is the list of the final squad, departing for Paris this afternoon.
1. Alefosio Tapili – Leulumoega
2. Faalemiga Selesele (C) – Satupa’itea, Salelologa
3. Siaosi Asofolau – Siumu
4. Savelio Ropati – Auckland, New Zealand
5. Teofilo Ed Fidow – New Zealand
6. Etiuefa Fiavaai – Lauli’i
7. Alex Samoa – Auckland, New Zealand
8. Tomasi Alosio – Levi-Saleimoa, Falefa
9. Tila Mealoi – Lalomanu
10. Samoa Toloa – Mulifanua, Sato’alepai
11. Belgium Tuatagaloa – Samatau
12. Alamanda Motuga – Auckland, New Zealand
Coach: Damain McGrath
Assistant Coach: Afioga Muligatele Brian Lima
Trainer: James Thomas Holden
Physio: Prashant Jhala
Team Manager: Vaafusuaga Tupuola Masunu Tuisila