Manu Sevens building up nicely for Dubai

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Samoa Toloa

Samoa Toloa (Photo: JB Autissier)

These are definitely exciting times for the Manu Samoa Sevens. 

Fresh from a successful campaign in Fiji, interim Manu Samoa Sevens Head Coach, Stephen Betham spoke to the Samoa Observer about the future of the Manu Samoa Seven’s team.  

Betham took a chance on selecting a group of experienced and inexperienced players which ultimately paid off.   

“I think it wasn’t too bad,” he said about the Oceania Sevens last week where Samoa was unlucky to lose to Fiji in the final. 

“ I think the boys went up there to make a name for themselves in the sevens arena on the next level.”

Especially interesting was his selection of appointing Tila Mealoi as captain.

 “As a new management we wanted to see what Tila’s leadership was,” he said. 

“Because Selesele was last year’s captain and he’s not on island at the moment.  So we needed to see if we have another leader in the pipeline and we took Tila onboard to see what his leadership qualities were like.  Tila did a very good job.  Not only on the field but off field, he has a lot of qualities as a Captain. “ 

Now that they’ve gotten their feet wet, the Manu Samoa Sevens is well into their preparations for the H.S.B.C World Series, with the first leg happening in Dubai at the beginning of next month.

 “A lot of the new boys put their hands up.  Again we’ve got a squad of 28 at the moment.  12 from Oceania and 16 that stayed behind include most of the players that played in the HSBC  last year.  Most of the experienced players were training on island and most of the young players we took to Oceania. 

“We should be naming the team Wednesday  morning for Dubai as well as the whole training squad for the year., which will be 18-20 players.” 

Also in line for selection for the World Series are familiar names like Selesele and Hunapo who arrived last Sunday and have been training at the Samoa Rugby Union, along with the other players who didn’t go to Oceania.  

Betham also confirmed that Tietjens will arrive on island on Sunday for the trials that will be held later in the week.  Although Tietjens contract doesn’t kick in until the start of next year, the  selections made now will affect the rest of the campaign . 

“So far so good, we’re pretty happy with the progress of the inexperienced players.  Like Tietjen’s said, we’re trying to build a solid platform and work up from there.   At the moment , we’re trying to get the right 18-20 players to work on and we’ll build on that .”

“Tiejeten will be taking over on January the 1st, so what we  do now will effect what happens later on. We just can’t do short term , if I do what I want this time and Tietjen’s does something different , then it will all come off.  We’ve all agreed that he’s still here to do and all I’m going to do is implement his plans and make sure their carried out until he comes on board.”

© Samoa Observer 2016

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