Tama Samoa’s exposure to professional rugby during the inaugural Brisbane Global Tens last week can only be good for Samoan rugby.
So says coach, Namualuulu Alama Ieremia, reflecting on the team’s performance at the tournament.
Tama Samoa were unlucky to lose to the Canterbury Crusaders in their opening game. They bounced back with the upset of the tournament to defeat the Auckland Blues.
On the third day, some questionable penalties against the men in blue did not help their cause against the Queensland Reds in a game they were again unlucky to lose.
But Namulauulu said there were plenty of positives from the tournament.
“The biggest lesson is that the team did not look out of place amongst the professionals,” he told the Samoa Observer.
“We learnt a lot around decision making in certain parts of the game - specifically breakdown and the pace of decisions.
“Professional players were better than us, but we will learn and get better at it next time. Possibly more tournaments leading into the trials locally will help improve these areas.”
The win against the Blues was a real highlight.
“I knew we could come back because the team has a strong team culture and the team belief was there,” he said.
“We decided to change tactically and play in their half from half time. That together with off loading in the middle of the park, plus the timing of our substitutions was the critical messages at halftime.
“To get 27 unanswered points in the second half says something about the team’s character. Leadership and experience from key players also played a role.”
Namulauulu credits the team’s preparation and continually working hard while everyone was on holiday.
“We worked hard on fitness over Christmas and New Years, and it paid off.
“To keep Crusaders and Blues scoreless in the second half and put 27 points on the Blues in the second half says a lot about the work we had put into our fitness.
“Our defence also played an important part for our campaign. We wanted to identify ourselves around defence because it reflects the attitude and soul of the team.
“Apart from couple of individual missed tackles, I believe the players were true to their commitment of putting their bodies on the line. Together with the width our passing, I think we had some success in those areas.”
Namulauulu also paid tribute to the leadership from the players.
“The leadership of the side was effective,” he said.
“With Faalemiga Selesele leading through his actions, he was supported by a leadership group who backed him up and drove the team from December 13th right through to the tournament. Campaigns are anchored on good leadership.
“Everyone played their part. From the non-playing members who helped prepare the team right through to the game drivers and leaders. Every player played their part.”
The coach added that one of the biggest obstacles of the tournament was keeping the momentum going for day two.
“I thought if we played the Reds on the same day, we could of taken our momentum from the Blues into the Reds game. Although we had our opportunities against the Reds, some of our decision making was not sharp enough compared to the day before.”
The tournament also provided a great confidence booster for the players. Being the only non-professional team in the tournament can be daunting but the team was able to keep pace and compete at the same level as the professional teams.
Now is back to work for the men in blue as they prepare for several campaigns coming up soon.
“We still have a long way to go if we are to be truly winning tournaments. We had real expectations going into the tournament - we are playing against professional teams who live and breathe rugby and are well supported with many resources and financial backing.
“We knew we wanted to focus on fitness and showcase Samoan rugby. We wanted to play at tempo and width that showcases our profile of players - first time for our U20's, Samoa A, Manu Samoa Sevens and Manu Samoa players all in one team, at one tournament.
“Lastly, its important that the players individual self belief is nurtured and developed moving forward. Most of these players will feature again in other upcoming campaigns of Samoa A, Sevens, U20s and Manu Samoa. If we want to be better, we need to work very hard and know that we can bridge the gap if we keep striving and believing in the processes and trainings we did for this campaign.”
Overall, “It was a well organised tournament from the logistics through to the quality of rugby which was good as far as we were concerned. The Brisbane local government and Duco Events prepared well.”
Namulauulu concluded: “The team and management want to thank the Chairman of SRU, our Honourable Prime Minister and the SRU Board for their support. Also the Apia Rugby Union and Apia Park for helping our preparations. The EFKS of Lugarno in Sydney, Waratahs Super Rugby team who assisted us while we camped in Sydney and also Kipisi Faavae- Eli for the transport. Lastly, thank you to the players families, Unions and villages who prayed and supported the team right through out. Although we fell short, we have learnt many lessons moving forward. We thank our Heavenly Father for guiding us and bringing us back safely to our families."