Vaeluaga supporting Samoa A, player development

By Thomas Airey

Manu Samoa coach Vaeluagaomatagi Steve Jackson is with the Samoa A team for their World Rugby Pacific Challenge campaign which begins this afternoon in Suva, Fiji.

Vaeluagaomatagi and Manu technical advisor Alistair Rogers joined the Samoa A squad on Wednesday, having flown in from visitations in Japan for the Rugby World Cup.

They join Samoa A coach Muliagatele Brian Lima’s staff, and will work alongside assistant coaches Soifua John Schuster and Mailo Potu Leavasa as technical advisors.

Vaeluagaomatagi said it is a good opportunity.

“I think it's a great idea for myself and Alistair to have a look at some of the players.

“We’re also here to support the management group.”

He said it was important to take an interest in this level of international rugby as well, since the Manu Samoa is about more than just one single team.

“Having a presence here to say we are looking at everyone and everything.

“As a development tool as well, moving forward we can take some of the boys out of this group.”

Vaeluagaomatagi said they are not just building up to the Rugby World Cup in September, with the development of Samoan rugby on the minds of his coaching staff as well.

“This team [Samoa A] could be the backbone of future Manu teams.

“We also get an understanding of what structures are needed for the development of young players.”

The World Rugby Pacific Challenge requires that each team have all but five of its players under the age of 23.

“We’re excited to watch them play in the first game against Japan,” said Vaeluagaomatagi.

The Manu Samoa coach was also excited by the form of Melani Matavao at his debut tournament on the World Rugby Sevens Series in Las Vegas.

Matavao played for Vaeluagaomatagi on the Manu’s Northern Hemisphere Tour last year, and was picked for the Manu Samoa 7s after catching coach Sir Gordon Tietjens’ eye at the Marist International Sevens Tournament.

Vaeluagaomatagi said he thought the halfback was outstanding at the Las Vegas Sevens.

“That tackle against Australia [to save Samoa’s quarterfinal win] shows his determination.

“Like a few others he’s in contention for the Rugby World Cup.”
He said 7s and 15s are two different types of games

“The conditioning he’ll get from sevens, and the work players do at the ruck will be good for 15s.

“But the halfback’s defensive role as a sweeper is totally different.

“And in 15s the halfback needs to have a kicking game, which isn’t present in sevens.”

Vaeluagaomatagi hopes to catch up with Matavao when he’s back in Samoa.

“Talking about what’s best for him this year.”

Vaeluagaomatagi Steve Jackson also said he was hugely honoured to have been bestowed his title by the village of Fogapoa, Safotulafai back in February.

He said it wasn’t something he was prepared for when he travelled to Savaii to view training facilities ahead of the World Cup campaign.

“I was pretty shocked to be honest, I still am.

“I’m a little bit embarrassed too because I really haven’t done anything yet.”
He said hopefully he could live up to the honour with a strong World Cup performance for Samoa.

“I understand the roleI I need to play.”

By Thomas Airey

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