Samoa can expect a new team to carry the nation’s flag in Dubai.
The players have done their job, and now it’s all up to the coaches and the selectors to pick their team.
Trials were held in the beginning of the week where the Head Coach of the Manu Samoa Sevens, Sir. Gordon Tiejtens, observed the players. A meeting was held yesterday after the trials to discuss, evaluate and select a squad of 20 players to take to Dubai.
Speaking to the Samoa Observer, Coach Tiejtens said he was impressed by what he saw.
“The trials were very outstanding,” he told the Samoa Observer. “In fact the way the game was played, there is certainly a lot of numbers here and a lot of talents to select from. I suppose for a lot of them it’s all about getting Sevens fit.
“And playing with the Samoa A boys who came in today, they all understand the game of sevens which from a coach’s perspective is very positive.
“They’ve all got the skills set and they know how to play the game, it’s now I suppose the challenge for us as coaches is to pick the right players to go to Dubai and South Africa.”
The coaches are looking for 13 players for Dubai and the South Africa, with another seven players to make up the 20-man squad.
“If we look at the previous years, there were a lot of injuries so we certainly need to get back here in Samoa to look at replacing those players if we do strike injuries.”
Tiejtens said Samoa could expect a very strong squad.
“I think it’s always important that when you look to name a new team, you can’t just always take away the younger players. It’s about mixing the experienced with the youth and that’s where they understand and that’s where they learn from.
“So it will be fair. So there will be some experience within the side and I think that’s really important, you can’t take a brand new team into the World Series tournament. Because for every tournament that someone’s involved in, just adds a little bit more experience to that player.
“There will certainly be experienced players on the side and Alatasi Tupou and those players, they certainly add a lot of experience and for them now, it’s about them getting Sevens fit and getting back into the mould of Sevens rugby.”
Asked about some of the big names to look out for in his selection, Tiejtens said that he is not just looking at picking one or two best players.
“What’s always been important to me about Sevens Rugby is that there will certainly be 12 players, and I have always believed that every player has to have an X-factor.
“An x-factor to perhaps break any opposition open. And effort it’s not always about one player because the analysis done with teams now and players is that they shut them down pretty quickly. So therefore, collectively you are looking for everyone to share the load and also provide those X-factors to win tournaments.”
And what X-factors was he talking about?
“You’ve got players who have got the step exhilaration, perhaps good in contact and winning in the area of contact, just the proverbial vision, and you see that in players.
“You know you have some players who have got the ingredient of pace and you need pace in Sevens rugby as well. There are other players who’ve got the x-factor of being superbly fit and therefore their game is all about support players so those are the x-factors that every player has to possess.”
Asked about his views on the Manu Samoa’s performance in Fiji, he said: “I thought it was outstanding.
“In the six games we had, we had five good ones and probably one where we lacked a little bit of superiotic or dominance against Papua New Guinea in the semifinals, and that was probably our bad game.
“But we still won that.”
Assistant Coach, Stephen Betham, shares Tietjen’s view about picking the right team.
“There are a lot of factors that we are looking at for the selection of our players. For instance, we have Sani Niue here who is not as fit as the other players, but as we’ve seen in today’s trials, he plays very well than those who are fit. And that’s why we will have a good look into the performances of all the players before we make a decision.
Like Tiejtens, Betham said no players have been confirmed to be on the squad.
But he admitted that the competition has been very tough as there were a lot of talent and potential shown during the trials
“But that’s what it’s all about; we have a new management, new regime, everything is new. So the players know that no one is safe. So we are now going to discuss who and what ways that they played their ways into the squad. It’s not easy.
Coach Tiejtens leaves for New Zealand tomorrow.
He will later meet the team in New Zealand before they travel to Dubai and South Africa.