The search for players who have what it takes to make Samoa’s next U20’s Rugby team started yesterday.
The first of three consecutive days of trials was held at Tuanaimato where players were put through the Yo-Yo fitness test, speed testing as well as trial games. Another two to three hour session of trial games will be conducted today and tomorrow.
The Under 20’s coach, Ramsey Touomio, explained that this back to back trial structure would assist in finding players that are “tournament fit, not just season fit”.
It would also assist in sifting out the players who have the necessary characteristic to be selected and take the team to the next level.
“It’s about seeing who has got the stamina to back up the next day,” he said.
“That’s part of fitness testing to start with, someone might turn up the next day and they’re broken or can’t perform. Ideally, we will get someone who has come throughout the whole three day process and has been resilient and tough and just have a mental edge about them.
“That’s what the three day process is about as well, getting people who are mentally tough.”
Not only are the coaches looking for athletes who can sustain high level performance in tournament like conditions, Brian Hopley, General Manager of Rugby at the Samoa Rugby Union explained that they are searching for athletes who have the right attitude.
“That is a big part of the selection, the attitude. We’re looking for quality people. If you look at any good team they have a good attitude.”
In order to do this, “we’ll set the expectations,” he said.
The first example for the trialling athletes was delivered yesterday when they were told for future reference by the Development Coordinator Shalom Senara “if anyone turns up late, don’t bother turning up at all.”
Hosted in April by Zimbabwe, the Samoan U20s team has their sights set on coming out on top of the Junior World Champions. Currently in the second tier the team will need to achieve this to move back into the top tier.
As coach, Touomio emphasised, the resilience and attitude of commitment that they are searching for will be required to build “a team that is focused on winning the Junior World Trophy because we need to get back up into the top ten competition”.
From the trails the best players born in 1996 and 1997 will be selected. Trials will then be held in February in both New Zealand and Australia for the Under 20’s Samoan team. Coach Touomio explained the reasoning behind this format. “We are going to identify what we have got here and fill in the gaps,” he said.
Other than the selection of the Under 20s team, players will also be talent scouted at the trials for the Rugby Academy Samoa.
Those scouted for the Academy Program may also be younger than those trialling for the Under 20’s team. Brian Hopley Highlighted that the Academy form an integral part of the development pathway for Rugby in Samoa.
Beginning in Schools, Under 18s are scouted for the Academy Program. This develops players for the Under 20’s team. The next step up is the Samoan A Grade team which feeds into the Manu Sevens team.