Sevens legend says Manu Sevens in good space
With about a decade as captain of the All Blacks Sevens under his belt, including six World Rugby Sevens Series title wins, it’s fair to say DJ Forbes knows a thing or two about the sport.
Forbes is in Samoa for the Pacific Games as part of his athlete engagement manager role with the New Zealand Olympic Committee, and he said the sport is on the up worldwide.
“The game’s going to grow bigger and bigger, I think that’s pretty obvious.”
He said while his main focus is on New Zealand’s athletes in archery, football, weightlifting, taekwondo and athletics, he’ll also be keeping an eye on the rugby sevens tournament on Friday and Saturday.
“These kind of games are important, I know Samoa will have their top side going out, especially on home ground.”
He said the Pacific Games competition is going to be a good taste of what to expect at the Oceania Championships in November, and thus a good opportunity for teams to plan ahead.
“That’s going to be a tough tournament to win, in terms of Olympic qualification there’s going to be a lot of pressure.
Forbes said the Manu Samoa 7s have come a long way since his old coach Sir Gordon Tietjens took over the reins in October 2016.
“They’ve slowly got some reward.
“I think they’re in a good space, they’ve got a good mix of some young players coming through, some local based players.”
The son of Nofo Fatialofa from Lepa, Forbes said he hopes the Manu can take Pacific Games gold.
“The last Games that I’ve seen, it’s kind of always been between them and Fiji.
“But I know Tonga’s been doing a bit of training.”
Tonga played two tournaments on the World Series this season, as well as the Hong Kong qualifying tournament.
“It’s going to make for an exciting sevens tournament here.
“If you’ve followed any sevens I think you know on the day, anything can happen.
“That’s what makes it so good to watch, but it makes it high pressure for the coaches and the people playing.”
He said it’s a good opportunity for the less-developed rugby sevens nations as well.
“That’s probably to best way for these Pacific nations to have a taste of what it’s like at that next level.
“If they can match it, good on them; if they can’t it gives them a benchmark to try and get to.”
Forbes bumped into Tietjens out at dinner after arriving in Samoa, and said they had a quick chat together.
“It’s good to see that he’s still enjoying his footy, and we’ll see how he goes with the boys this weekend.”