Samoa up against it at Sydney Sevens
The Manu Samoa 7s will have to survive another tough pool on Day One of the Sydney rounds of the World Rugby Sevens Series today if they are to finish in the top two and make the Cup quarterfinals for the second week in a row.
Samoa, who are in eighth place in the overall Series standings, will play fifth placed England in their first game today at 2:12pm Samoan time.
They’ll then play the bottom placed core Series team Japan at 7:40pm, before taking on Series leaders and last week’s champions from the Hamilton tournament, Fiji at 12:07am.
Coach Sir Gordon Tietjens said the tough pools are following Samoa this year for some reason.
“I’d give you anything to be in one of the other ones.”
He said Samoa could take some encouragement from their win over England in Hamilton.
“But we know they will come back harder because of that.”
Samoa beat England 12-10 in their first game last Saturday, which set them up for a 2nd place finish in their pool behind eventual finalists the United States.
With a win against Fiji looking unlikely, they’ll almost certainly need a repeat performance against England, who missed the Cup quarterfinals for the first time this season.
However Tietjens said he’s pleased with the way his team are improving, and believes they can beat any side in the world on their day.
Samoa forward Alamanda Motuga comes into the Sydney tournament in a rich vein of form through the first three rounds of the Series.
He is third in the DHL Impact Player rankings, which collate all the tackles, breaks, offloads and carries made by each player.
Motuga is first equal in clean breaks this season with 15.
He also has 13 tries, equal third most on the tour, and one more than Samoa captain David Afamasaga.
England’s Dan Norton, the Series all-time leading try scorer, is also on 13 for the season.
Alasio Naduva and Aminiasi Tuimaba of Fiji are on 15 and 14 tries respectively, while Fiji also have three of the top four in offloads this season.
With no injury concerns, Samoa go into the tournament with their full squad of 13 in good health.
On the women’ side of the draw, Tietjens’ son Paul will make his coaching Series debut leading the Papua New Guinea Palais.
He took over as coach prior to the Oceania Championship late last year, having previously worked under Sir Gordon as the strength and conditioning trainer for the Manu Samoa Sevens.
Manu Samoa 7s squad for Sydney:
1 KIRISIMASI SAVAIINAEA - FRANKIES TAMAULI SALELOLOGA / VIKINGS
2 ALAMANDA MOTUGA - AUCKLAND MARIST
3 IKIFUSI MATAMU - TIR MOATAA / VIKINGS
4 JOHNNY SAMUELU - BBE VAIALA / WARRIORS
5 DANNY TUSITALA - PONSONBY AUCKLAND NZ
6 SIAOSI ASOFOLAU - BBE VAIALA / NAVIGATORS
7 ALATASI TUPOU - BBE VAIALA / EELS
8 TOMASI ALOSIO - HUTT OB MARIST WELLINGTON NZ
9 MURPHY PAULO - BBE VAIALA / SOUTHERN TORNADOES
10 ELISAPETA ALOFIPO - FRANKIES TAMAULI SALELOLOGA / VIKINGS
11 JOE PEREZ - BBE VAIALA / KNIGHTS
12 DAVID AFAMASAGA - ARDMORE MARIST AUCKLAND NZ
13 JOHNNY VAILI - TIR MOATAA / CHIEFS
SIR GORDON TIETJENS - HEAD COACH
STEPHEN BETHAM - ASSISTANT COACH
PETER POULOS - TEAM MANAGER
JUNIOR NARAYAN - VIDEO ANALYST
CASEY WILLIAMS - PHYSIOTHERAPIST