Coach Tietjens wants strong start from Manu Sevens in Hong Kong
Manu Samoa Sevens coach, Sir Gordon Tietjens, says there is something different about the Hong Kong round of World Rugby Sevens Series, and it is not only the tournament format.
Whereas most series tournaments are played over two days (pool games day one, finals day two), the Hong Kong 7s, which starts which starts today, sees each team play once this evening before the rest of the weekend's action.
While Sir Tietjens has always stressed the importance of the first game at any tournament, he said a strong performance is particularly vital with this format.
“It’s one game on the Friday night, and that’s the game you’ve gotta get up for," he said.
He said Samoa can't rely on making up the gap on day two, and don't want to be put in the position of needing a win against previous series round Vancouver 7s champions South Africa.
The Blitzbokke will be Samoa's final pool opponent (on Saturday at 9:22pm Samoan time), following their game against Japan (Saturday at 5:16pm) and the very first game of the tournament with Scotland (Friday 11:42pm).
Sir Tietjens said it's a tricky pool, but possibly not the hardest his side have faced this year.
“They’re all tough games."
He said the head-to-head results so far this year bear that out.
Samoa have taken a win and a loss each from their two games against both Scotland and Japan on the Series so far.
“That’s how close it is, you’ve just gotta be up for it on the day," said Sir Tietjens.
He said it is a pool Samoa could do quite well in though.
“If we play to our potential and start like we did the Canadian tournament, we’ll be in good stead."
The Manu got off to a rollicking start in Vancouver, smashing the tournament hosts 38-7.
Tietjens said their biggest challenge, as always, is carrying the momentum over from the two successful tournaments in Vancouver and Las Vegas four and five weeks ago.
“After that break, there’s people from other teams coming back from injuries that sometimes can strengthen their teams.
“It is about getting consistency, and that’s our biggest challenge.
“Can we replicate what we did in those two tournaments in our next two."
He said the Hong Kong tournament is a great experience every year.
“In a lot of ways it’s the biggest tournament because of the history that it has.
“I had the experience as a player, in playing for New Zealand in ‘83 in a tournament and I’ll never forget that.
“I can imagine for some of these players it’s their first Hong Kong, and it’s something that will always be in their memories really, when they reflect back on their rugby careers."
He said the added status and prestige around the Hong Kong 7s doesn't change anything in terms of training and preparation.
“It’s another sevens tournament."
Manu Samoa possible Hong Kong 7s lineup:
- David Afamasaga (captain)
- Alamanda Motuga
- Siaosi Asofolau
- Tila Mealoi
- Melani Matavao
- John Vaili
- Elisapeta Alofipo
Bench and injury reserve from:
- Tofatu Solia
- Murphy Paulo
- Tomasi Alosio
- Johnny Samuelu
- Laaloi Leilua
- Paul Scanlan