The defending champions of the Vailima Marist Seven, Marist St. Joseph’s might not have had the ideal preparations but there is no doubting the fighting spirit in the green machine as the countdown to Friday continues.
Speaking to the Samoa Observer yesterday evening, coach and former Manu Samoa player, Tapunuuomanū Roger Warren, said their preparations have been severely disrupted by their players being called up for national duties.
For example, four Marist players cannot take part in the tournament this weekend because of their commitment to the Samoa A which is playing the Melbourne Rebels as part of their Super Rugby campaign.
Along with other factors, Tapunuuomanū said they have yet to finalize their squad.
“We only have three players from the winning team last year,” he said. “So right now, we aren’t the favourites but Auckland Marist have brought a really good team.”
Tapunuuomanū said Auckland have brought across a number of players who were in the Counties Manukau team that recently won the New Zealand Sevens.
“Right now, I’d say they are the favourites in this tournament.”
But Trainer and Physio, Etu Tusitala, is more optimistic.
“Roger and the boys have been working it out with the young unknown talents that we have,” he said. “Conditioning-wise, the players are pretty much up to the challenge for this weekend.”
Etu said the tournament would be an opportunity for young players to step up.
“We are giving the inexperienced players more of a mentoring before the tournament.
“All we want to focus on is their attitude towards the game and not to get too excited because most of the times these young inexperienced players get too excited and then they lose focus.”
Etu said they are confident.
“We’ve focused mostly on their fitness and nothing technical until this week where we are working on game-play.
“We kept the idea of keeping the guys in physical shape which helps prevent injuries. We want them to finish the tournament still at 150per cent.
“That’s why last year we had no injuries and the players just wanted to keep playing. So that’s our idea and it works so why change something that works?”
Etu said the pressure is not on them.
“All the teams in this competition is now after one thing. And that is to come and beat Marist. Which makes us a little more relaxed so we’re not rushing anything.”
All teams taking part in this year’s tournament will be marching on Beach Road this morning for the opening parade.