The hard work is done. Hours before the Manu Samoa run on to the Apia Park for their first international game of the season against Georgia today, the message from the coaching staff is quite simple.
“It’s about trying to make sure that they are focused on their job,” Coach Namulauulu Alama Ieremia tells the Weekend Observer.
“With a young team, I know emotions can go two ways for young rugby players.
“It’s important that we have an environment where players are encouraged to maintain their composure and just relax. They’ve done the preparation, but it’s really the confidence that they really need to understand, and hopefully we will see that today.”
Coach Namulauulu took his players through their final light drills during the Captain’s run yesterday. The players looked relax but come game time this afternoon when the Apia Park is expected to be packed to the brim, Namulauulu said the players would be ready to go.
“Preparations are already done, all the talking has been done, and it’s time for action. The boys are pretty excited and I’m excited for them. You know the time has come and we are on our mission. So we have to make sure that we do the job.”
On Thursday, Namulauulu named a relatively new team, ushering in what’s been referred to as the ‘new era’ for the Manu Samoa.
There are nine debutants in the playing 23.
“The boys are very proud to represent their country and their families.
“They are emotionally charged around being here and training in front of fans and now to ultimately play in front of them. I reckon that’s a huge honor for them, and my job is to make sure that they always remember that.
“And most importantly is that they are focused on their job. There are a lot of people relying on them and you know that’s always the case.
“But for them, and most importantly the team, doing their job and their roles on the field is critical. If they do their job, then that’s the way to repay their fans.
“I always love coming home, and playing in front of all these fans, it means a lot to all of us. So yeah, I am hoping for a great performance from the boys for the fans.”
Looking at Georgia, Coach Namulauulu has not allowed the lack of information about their opponent to change their preparations.
“We have the ultimate respect for them,” he said. “First and foremost, you have to respect the opposition. It’s a very good and experienced side, it’s well-coached and you can see that by the way they train. They’ve got a very strong team culture so we’ve got a very tough task to try and break them down.
“But we’re just going to have confidence in our preparations that’s all we can control at the moment and make sure that we respect them but don’t fear them on the field. We’ve got to make sure that we do our job.”
Where might this game be won and lost today?
“Up front has always been critical since the game first started,” said Namulauulu.
“You know you’ve got to get some form of parity at the set pieces, especially in the islands where possession is everything and that’s really important.
“It will be a fierce battle in the forwards and we’re just going to make sure that the opportunities we do get, we finish those off. There might not be that many considering the type of game that’s going to probably unfold.”
The game kicks off at 3.30pm.