Manu Sina showdown with Fiji to decide Oceania Women’s Rugby Championship

By Thomas Airey 23 November 2018, 12:00AM

Today’s Oceania Women’s Rugby Championship title decider between Samoa and hosts Fiji will be the biggest game of rugby in most of the Manu Sina players’ careers to date.

Both teams come into the game unbeaten, and Samoa coach Ramsey Tomokino said Fiji are a good side.

“They’ve been together longer, so they’re more used to the conditions as well.”

Tomokino said there has recently been changes in Fijian women’s rugby, with the new 7s coach leaving out some strong players who have chosen to play 15s now.

“It’s exciting because it makes it a tougher challenge.” After playing expansive attacking rugby in their 68-7 win over Tonga, the Manu Sina will look to keep the ball in close more against Fiji.

“We need to play well up front first, then shift it when we can,” said Tomokino.

“A strong set piece in 15s usually means a successful team, we’re working to make that a strength to counter the Fijian flair.

“We have been building up quietly towards this game, there’s still areas from the Tonga game we can improve in.

“It’s all about having the right mindset, there’s a learning curve with how to eat and train because a lot of the girls are new to touring.”

Coach Tomokino said it had been hard but he believed Manu Sina had adjusted to the heat.

“We’re pretty used to the conditions by now, although now adjusting to 32 degree heat in the last few days. “There were a few tummy bugs around before Tonga, but great things don’t happen when you’re in your comfort zone.”

He said he was proud of the girls for fulfilling their goal – putting themselves in position to win a Championship.

“In the bigger picture, we have 2 wins on the board already, and putting a team out for this competition was the primary objective, we can build performance from there.

“It’s awesome for the girls, being ambassadors for Samoa.

“A lot of messages have come through to the team from girls that turned us down saying they wish they were here.”

“All the girls have made sacrifices to be here, they aren’t professionals.”

Almost the entire squad are based in New Zealand and Australia, but building depth, particularly around local players is key to that.

“Soteria Pulumu and Saelua Leaula are local Samoans with us who joined the team after the Oceania 7s, and they’ve been great additions,” said Tomokino.

Samoa and Fiji will play at 4:30pm Samoan time in their first game since 2006, when Manu Sina won 27-15.

Manu Sina team to play Fiji:

1.    Cynthia Apineru

2.    Inga Timani

3.    Jacqui Aiono

4.    Mary-Lee Sa’u

5.    Taylah Hodson-Tomokino

6.    Marilyn Live

7.    Sui Pauaraisa (captain)

8.    Nina Foaese (vice-captain)

9.    Alafou Fatu

10.  Aiesha Smalley

11.  Lumepa Maiava

12.  Billy Jean Tuavale-Ale

13.  Josephine Falesita

14.  Sieni Mose Aviata Samau

15.  Soteria Pulumu

16.  Hayley Pilato

17.  Jennifer Simate

18.  Lorina Papali’i

19.  Ruth Vae

20.  Moega Wright

21.  Saelua Leaula

22.  Seini Misi Tui

23.  Osooso Feaunati

By Thomas Airey 23 November 2018, 12:00AM

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