Samoa 7s hoping to bounce back in Hamilton this week
The Manu Samoa 7s team will be hoping for better luck at the Hamilton Sevens this weekend than they had in the first two rounds of the World Series last year.
Sir Gordon Tietjens’ side missed out on the Cup quarterfinals of both the Dubai and Cape Town tournaments on points difference.
Samoa sit 10th in the overall Series, and have drawn first place USA, fourth place England and part-timers Tonga for the Hamilton leg, which begins today.
Samoa’s first game is against England at 11:44am Samoa time, followed by the USA at 3:54pm and Tonga at 7:44pm.
Coach Tietjen’s said that first match would be crucial in shaping the rest of the tournament and playing Cup rugby on Sunday.
He said prior to selecting the squad for Hamilton and next week’s leg in Sydney, that he would be prioritising experience.
Tila Mealoi, Della Neli and Ricky Ene have been replaced by veterans Murphy Paulo and Joe Perez, as well as newcomer Ikifusi Matamu. “Murphy Paulo, if you look at last year he had a big Hamilton performance,” Tietjens told Radio New Zealand.
“He basically won us the game against the USA with a beautiful 60 metre try and also was a real instigator and a real handful for England as well.”
“When he’s on top of his game he’s a very, very good player. He’s come back really fit and he wants to prove a point and he’s made the side for Hamilton.”
He said Joe Perez is probably the team’s quickest player, along with Elisapeta Alofipo and Johnny Vaili.
“Joe’s probably, out of all those back three, probably our best defender and he’s got a bit of experience now.
“He’s scored a lot of big tries for us at different times so having him back after being out with suspension is really pleasing.”
He said Matamu is a big powerful player who loves contact.
“He’s been involved with Samoa A but he’s been training with the sevens team for the last six to eight weeks and he played well in the trials over in Samoa so he deserves his spot.
“I know if he gets an opportunity he will really bring that physicality to the table and he’s certainly a very, very good defender as well.”