Manu Samoa Head coach, Stephen Betham has hailed the Northern Hemisphere Tour (NHT) a success.
The endorsement was given during a press conference at Ululoloa yesterday where Betham and Manu Samoa Manager, Namulauulu Sami Leota spoke about the tour during which the Manu defeated Canada, Wales but narrowly lost to France.
“The tour itself was very successful in that we had achieved,” said Betham, who added that their goal was to improve Samoa’s ranking so we could get an easier draw for the 2015 Rugby World Cup in London.
“That was what we wanted and although we did not win against France, we did achieve a shift in rankings which was our ultimate goal.”
Betham said the improved ranking would mean many things.
“Being in the top eight will mean our RWC campaign will be easier than last year,” he said. “It will also mean more funding from the IRB which will be a great help with our preparations for the World Cup.
“Being eighth means that we will have teams who are ranked below us in our pool and that is always a good sign. It will also mean that the turn around times for our games is much longer so we have more recovery time.”
Namulauulu said the tour was a great learning curve. More importantly, it was an opportunity to expose players to top-level international rugby.
“Ultimately we want the best for these boys and their future and I can confidently say that at the end of the NHT, our players had many offers for contracts and that is a good thing for them,” he said.
“We want them to develop as much as they can for themselves and also for their families. And as much as we want to hang onto to them, we cannot match the offers they get from overseas clubs.”
Betham stressed to the team however that their commitment to Manu Samoa must be clear if they wish to be a part of the 2015 RWC squad.
“As we mentioned before, commitment must be made clear because to do well in the RWC the work must be put in now, we must build now.”
The Manu Samoa squad for the NHT, according to Betham, was more of a “family than a squad.”
“We all seemed to connect as brothers during this tour and spending so much time together really gave everyone the chance to get to know each other better, which is what we need in the team.”
“A lot was said about last years’ campaign and I did not want to bring any ill feelings from the past to hinder our going forward as a new team, the past is the past.
“To me, the NHT gave the whole team, management and players an opportunity to come together and set some goals for Manu Samoa going forward.
“We have identified key areas which we need to address in terms of players and positions and we hope that next year we continue our rebuilding process for the RWC.
“The boys did very well and went beyond many people’s expectations and we hope to build on that and focus on a stronger team for next years NHT.”
The Management and players of the Manu Samoa extend their gratitude to all the supporters for their prayers and well wishes. For their efforts, the Samoa Rugby Union has rewarded the team with a $50,000 bonus.