We need to hit the panic button

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Mata'afa Keni Lesa

It has to be said. Watching the Manu Samoa Sevens lately has been quite a task. An awfully difficult task that is.

As much as we want to be positive and hope that they will somehow come right, it just hasn’t happened yet. They’ll take one step forward and several backwards which has been frustrating. 

The reality is that if the coaching staff aren’t panicking yet as they look to Monaco for that one last opportunity to cement a place in the Olympics, they should be now. 

Even if the level of competition at Monaco is drastically lower than what we’ve been seeing for the past couple of weeks in the World Rugby Sevens Series, you just wouldn’t put your money on this team to do the job. Some players look out of their league and at the worst of times, they look downright pathetic. 

Which is sad of course.

By all means, we don’t expect them to perform miracles. We accept that the new coaching staff must be given some time to get it together and that the majority of the squad are new players who are trying to find their feet. We totally get that. 

But repeated pathetic performances is another story. And when we can’t even win the Bowl, it becomes a pain at all the wrong places. 

At this point, all one could think of it is that one last elusive spot for Rio that will be up for grabs in the middle of this year. 

Many people assume that Samoa will secure that place. They have good reason for their optimism. 

But then looking at the team’s performance lately, there is reason to be concerned. 

And the coaching staff must surely push the panic button now when they return from Sydney. There is no choice but for the Samoa Rugby Union to do everything in its power to bring some of our more experienced players to boost our chances at Monaco.

When we last had the chance to qualify for the Olympics in Auckland, Tonga came out of nowhere and knocked us out of the tournament. 

With that performance, don’t expect Tonga to rest on their laurels. In Monaco, they will bring a stronger team and they must be seriously confident about repeating the feat against Samoa.

Keep in mind that Tonga is just one of the many teams we have to worry about. There are other big rugby-playing nations who will also be using the tournament as a last resort to find a ticket to Rio. They will bring their best teams and they will not spare any expenses in the process. 

We’ve been talking about the Olympics for a long time now and yet the most disappointing part for Samoa is that the chance appears to be slipping away with every tournament we play. 

We just haven’t seen anything from the current crop to convince us that they have what it takes. And this must now be a real worry.

All you have to do is watch the World Rugby Series to see how good the other teams have become to know how far behind we’ve dropped. 

Once upon a time, games against the United States, Australia and Kenya were walks in the park for Samoa. 

But how things have quickly changed. So sad.

And how about that mighty New Zealand Sevens team? Goodness they are an impressive unit to watch. And with about half of the team made up on players with Samoan connections, it’s not hard to easily like them. Guys like Akira and Rieko Ioane have surely become household names now, not to mention Ben Lam, Ardie Savea and of course Sonny Bill Williams. 

When we watch New Zealand in action, the spine tickles. They are a machine, so good in every thing they do. The best part about this outfit is that they are confident, composed and they trust their systems. They have got the making of a champion team, one that unless the other teams catch up quickly, is likely to walk away with the gold in Rio.

The other teams though are not far behind. Look at how close Australia came on Sunday night to an upset? And let’s not forget South Africa, Fiji, U.S.A, England and a couple of other teams who are right behind New Zealand’s tails.

So where does that leave Samoa?

There is no doubt that Damien McGrath and his men have got a lot of work to do. But now maybe they need more than just train, play and pray. 

They really need the Samoa Rugby Union – and possibly the government if it can – to throw some serious money to attract some of 15s stars to come home for one last push to secure that Rio spot.

What do you think?

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