Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi had some stern words for the Manu Samoa team yesterday. He delivered the message during a meeting with the coach, Namulauulu Alama Ieremia, and the team at his office.
The media was not allowed but Coach Namulauulu said as the Chairman of the Samoa Rugby Union, the Prime Minister would love nothing more than a win against Tonga at Apia Park tomorrow.
“He encouraged the boys and gave us words of advice for the game on Saturday. He also spoke to us about tactics of the game and the boys are very happy.”
Namulauulu said the Prime Minister reminded the team about how important it is for them to win.
“I know everyone is disappointed with the outcome of the previous games but we are aware of how important this game is for everyone,” said Namulauulu.
“This game is not only important for us but also for the whole country. And we will do our best not to fail our country this time.
“The pressure and expectations are obviously really high for the team but the boys have stuck with the review and our details and hopefully (they will) perform better this week.
“We know this week has been a tough week for the country and I think we owe it to our fans and our country to get it right.”
With Census Johnston and Paul Perez joining the team, and Tusi Pisi and Motu Matu’u under the injury cloud, Namulauulu has made some big changes in his squad.
“Tonga is a different challenge for us. And we have to make sure that we have the right players and obviously the right game plan for them.
“Tusi has broken his arm, so as Motu Matu’u. Those are the key injuries, and that’s why they were subbed off at half time during the game with Fiji.
One of the major changes in the squad is Malu Falaniko who will be wearing the number 15 jersey on Saturday.
“Malu is a special player,” said Namulauulu. “He is a talented young player and he has been rewarded to play in the team that will play against Tonga. There are also other changes with Census and Paul coming in, and the changing around the half back is also critical in terms of the top games that we look to start and finish.
“And with Jeff Lepa ahead of Teofilo Paulo who is on the bench. You know those are tactical substitutions and geared towards Tonga, whom we have a massive amount of respect for.
“Paul Perez is obviously an experienced player who has just been available for the game this week just like Census Johnston. And we’ve been waiting for these boys for a while.
“We know that Tonga will bring a physicality team as well and we are prepared to meet the challenge.
“We just have to make sure that we cover our entire bases tactically and obviously with the experience we have with Paul and Census coming in the team.”
Namulauulu said Tonga is a must win game for Samoa.
“There’s no bigger game than the game this weekend,” he said. “I mean we go into these test matches to win. And obviously we haven’t got that yet, therefore we have to get our performance right. The result this weekend is everything.
“Tonga is a very physical team and they are actually here for business and to get the job done. I know they are much focused; they are here for one reason and one reason only.
“And we are very aware of that. They are coached by very good coaches, very recognized names in rugby and they are also going through a rebuilding phase as well.
And with good quality coaches like them, you expect us to be tested in the weekend. Obviously it’s a do or die for both teams. It’s a very important game for us as I have mentioned.”