Samoan champions fasting for sevens success

Frankie Tama Uli Salelologa are hoping for a strong showing at the Marist International Sevens next weekend (February 15th-16th), having found a “secret weapon” last year that has driven the team’s recent sevens rugby success.

Coach Matamua Junior Salima said the team began doing half sessions on Wednesday’s ahead of their Samoa Rugby Union Sevens Series-winning campaign, because they would fast every week from Tuesday night after dinner until 2pm the next day.

“We believe in God, and this was the way to get Him to help our preparations.”

He said adding spiritual preparations to their physical and mental preparations made the difference.

Frankie Tama Uli Salelologa are training every day except Sundays ahead of the Marist Sevens, which coach Matamua said they have been preparing for since December.

They won two out of three legs on the Frankie Sevens Series earlier this year against other competition from Savaii, which he said was the perfect way to get ready for Marist.

Matamua said the team know it won’t be easy, so they have to get their preparations right.

“It’s the number one biggest tournament we have, it’s hard every year.

“We’ll accept every challenge that comes.”

He said the top teams in Apia like Vaiala, Vailele, Moata’a and Marist would all be looking to bounce back after Tama Uli’s Series win last year.

“Plus international teams like Auckland Marist, who won the last couple years in a row.”

Matamua said historically in Samoan rugby, it was hard for the Savaii teams to beat those from Apia.

“That turned last year, we gave the whole island belief.

“We believe we can beat anybody, any time, any place.”

But he said that only came about through a lot of hard work, and the players were trying to keep a low profile and prepare with humility.

“We are carrying the flags for Salelologa and Savaii.

“We thank our families and village for their support, it takes the team to a whole different level.”

He said there are five players in the side that they are bringing with the hope they can make it into the Manu Samoa Sevens training squad, becoming contracted by the Samoa Rugby Union.

“That’s the main aim of this tournament, the whole purpose is to expose the players.

“So they get money for their families and the future.”

Frankie Tama Uli Salelologa had two players named in the most recent Samoa squad for the World Rugby Sevens Series rounds in Hamilton and Sydney in the last couple of weeks; Kirisimasi Savaiinaea and Elisapeta Alofipo.

Matamua said he was unsure whether they would be able to play at Marist, as Samoa coach Sir Gordon Tietjens probably wouldn’t allow his key players to take part with another round in Las Vegas coming at the beginning of March.

He said they hoped some of the other contracted players would be able to play, to inject some quality into the Tama Uli side.

The team that will play next week will include 10 players from last years S.R.U Sevens Series champions, however Manu Samoa 7s contracted playmaker Ricky Ene has joined Savaiian club Iva White Lions.

Matamua said he was a good player and they wish him the best, but Tama Uli aren’t losing anything with his absence.

“Whoever leaves, the team keeps going, every player is treated equally.

“This team was the reason he made it to the Manu.”

Matumua said Ene would be a key player for Iva, while Kelvin Masoe was one to watch for Tama Uli. “He has the x-factor, I believe he’s the fastest player in Samoa.”

The 19-year-old competed for Samoa in the 100 and 200 metre races at the 2018 Commonwealth Games, and made the wider training squad for the Manu Samoa 7s in October.

Frankie Tama Uli Salelologa will travel to Apia next Thursday for the tournament, with the players unable to get much time off work to compete.

Matamua said they wish all the teams the very best for the Marist Sevens, the local ones in particular.

“We have to keep the trophy and prize money in Samoa.

“We’re going to have fun next week.”

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