Coach says Manu Samoa ready for the U.S.A.
Manu Samoa Coach, Steve Jackson, is full of praise for Manu Samoa’s preparation ahead of their first game under him tomorrow morning.
After a week training together in Northern Spain, the Manu will play the United States at Anoeta Stadium in San Sebastian.
Jackson has been impressed by how quickly the team has gelled.
“The Regulation Nine camp in England gave us all a chance to get to know each other, build trust and gain clarity,” he said.
“This week we’ve trained really well and the team has repaid all the great work of the crew behind the scenes.”
He said while this week has mainly been focussed on the details for the Manu and how they want to play, they also put in some time previewing the U.S.A.
“They play a direct style, coming hard off the ruck, we think they’ll try to outwork us.
“Tony Lamborn brings a real hard-nosed edge to that forward pack at openside flanker, and they have a good kicking game.”
The Eagles lost 22-59 to the Maori All Blacks in Chicago last weekend.
But Jackson says they’ll be better for having played, unlike Manu Samoa who were last together for the Rugby World Cup Qualifier in July.
“Defence coach Al Rogers has put together the structures we think can contain them. And they have to look out for us too.”
Jackson hopes the Manu will have strengths across the park, but singled Kane Leaupepe out as a key figure at lock.
“I’m really pleased for him, he’s been a standout at training.
Leaupepe will start on his Manu Samoa debut, while four more new caps will come off the bench.
Jackson said they’ll bring a lot of energy into the game as it goes on.
“Iakopo Petelo-Mapu – that kid’s been outstanding, just oozing enthusiasm.”
The 21-year-old loosie represents the Aana Chiefs franchise locally, and shone for Samoa A at the recent World Rugby Americas Pacific Challenge triumph.
Jackson said he absolutely deserves his opportunity.
“I’ve never seen anything like it, can’t wait to let him loose.”
With Chris Vui injured, flanker Jack Lam will fill in as captain.
Jackson said he was the obvious choice.
“He was the first guy I phoned after hearing (of the injury). The guys all look up to Jack, and his game speaks for itself.”
Manu Samoa currently sit 16th in the World Rugby Rankings.
Their upcoming games against U.S.A. (15th) and Georgia (13th) present real opportunities to climb the ladder.
Jackson said playing the higher ranked teams around the Manu means they have nothing to lose.
“We’re all mindful of where we are and where we should be. Its up to us to inspire the whole nation back home.”
He said while good performances are important, the outcome of each game matters most.
“I’m employed to get results, and I don’t like to lose. Winning breeds success, our job is to create an environment and culture that feeds that.”
He said everyone is buying in to this exciting time for the team.
“I’m thankful and blessed to be in this position.
“We’ve put in the work, now everyone back home gets to see that.”