Fa'asalele relishing the newness of Manu Samoa camp

Veteran Manu Samoa loose forward Piula Fa'asalele is enjoying the fresh vibe around the squad for the Pacific Nations Cup.

The 31-year-old has been a regular in the national team since his debut in 2013, and he said this Manu camp has been awesome, highlighting the week spent in Auckland at the AUT Millennium Institute.

“Good to be in camp in a facility where we’re all based together, like dormitory-style, just to get to know each other, it’s quite a new team."

Fa'asalele, who is from Magiagi and Nofoali'i, said it was something different, and the transition to Samoa ahead of the Pacific Nations Cup opener against Tonga at Apia Park was good for the players, some of whom haven't been in the country for a while.

“For them it’s a proud moment, and it’s an opportunity to see family and showcase their talent in front of them."

The flanker, who played for Toulouse last season and has signed for Perpignan for 2019-20, said he is one of the older heads in the team now.

“As is tradition, you start at the front of the bus, and I’m at the back seat now.

“Seeing the young boys come in, I remind myself that I’m not a little kid anymore, I have to show some responsibility and leadership.”

With Manu Samoa head coach Vaeluagaomatagi Steve Jackson only taking over the role a few weeks before the 2018 November tour, Fa'asalele said there was limited time for him to put his imprint on the team.

“You could say it’s a fresh start."

He said while they are a proud team who always want results, those three games came with the bigger picture need to find Vaeluaga's core group of players entering 2019.

“Now we’re here together, heading towards the World Cup."

Japan 2019 would be Fa'asalele's first World Cup if he makes the squad, having missed the previous tournament in 2015 with an A.C.L. injury.

“Hopefully, touch wood, I can get there.

“I was gutted last time, but there’s a reason for everything so, I guess maybe this year’s our year.

“I want us to win the World Cup, that’s in my head."

 He said the Manu Samoa fans can be quite demanding of the team.

“Just be patient with us, we want the same objectives as they do.

Fa'asalele said they never go out to lose a game, and sometimes things just don't come off.

“It’s never intentional, we wear our hearts on our sleeves and that’s for the people, our families, our country.

“Just bear with us, we’re still in our building phase and we’ll eventually get there."

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