A proud Manu Coach

By Vatapuia Maiava ,

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It has been quite a year for the H.S.B.C. Sevens World Series with shocking results showing that the Olympic Sevens Gold medal could go to any team.

Despite the disappointing results in London, Samoa Sevens fans are still proud of their boys in blue after proving over time that they are indeed improving.

Although the drop in London was sudden, especially after their triumph in Paris the week before, nothing has altered the faith Head Coach Damien McGrath has for his team.

“It was a difficult week in London,” he said during an interview with Samoa Observer.

“We had achieved so much the week before and our minds were on Monaco; I had no thoughts but ‘stay injury free’.

“Whilst our results were not what we would expect, the resolve and effort pleased me.”

Throughout the 7s year, every team showed that they are taking things much more serious and with the resources some teams have available to them, they can afford to do so.

With underdogs becoming kings, shocking results from David and Goliath matches; according to Mr. McGrath, we can only do so much with our limited resources here in Samoa.

“We are very much the poor relation in terms of resources and preparation,” he said.

“7’s is now big business, the global TV audience is huge which draws in big sponsors and big name players.

“Countries are filling their squads with players from the top professional leagues as well as big international stars.

“Scotland, who won in London, had 6 full internationals playing and all 12 were from ‘Pro 12’ clubs in Europe.

“It puts into perspective what our boys have achieved; 7’s is a full time occupation for most players in the World Series, I think we will have to try and emulate that to be competitive.”

The results in London greatly affected Mr. McGrath and his boys emotionally.

“The players were downbeat after London,” he said.

“They care passionately about playing for Samoa so they never enjoy a poor tournament.”

With injury being a hindrance, Coach McGrath applauded his team’s effort to push on despite the circumstances.

“I greatly underestimated how emotionally and physically drained the players were after Paris,” he said.

“We played the tournament with only 11 fit players and 2 or 3 others who in an ideal world I would not have risked.

“The first couple of matches were very flat, although it was close in score, these were games we could and should have won; It proved to them that unless you are at your best, the series is too tight for anything but 100% performances.

“I was really disappointed with our tackling which let us down; I was impressed by Tila Mealoi who could hardly walk in between games and Samoa Toloa who defied a leg injury to play.

“People might be interested to know that Fiji, England, New Zealand, France, Argentina, USA and Australia in particular brought in plenty of fresh players after last week which is a luxury we would have liked to enjoy.”

According to Coach McGrath, their game plan will remain the same as they prepare for Monaco’s repechage.

“Our plans are still the same,” he said.

“We will pick from our 15 available players; we will train next week in Samoa before spending a few days in Brisbane on our way to Monaco.

“It’s been a long hard season but it has gone to plan; we started from scratch and stuck to our task even when we were being written off.

“We started as nobodies, became outsiders then competitors then winners; I am pleased for the people of Samoa who crave success, the families of the boys who know the sacrifice and commitment they’ve made but most of all I’m happy that the players have received their due recognition for their talents.

“The cup final in Paris was won against a Fiji team that featured all their big overseas stars and was regarded as the best they could field; our boys matched them and beat them with self belief, resolve and Samoan passion.

“I don’t think I could have asked for more.”

© Samoa Observer 2016

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