Suspensions overshadow Scotland buildup for Manu
They might be staying at a be staying at a seaside resort on the picturesque island of Awaji, but Manu Samoa’s week has been anything but relaxing.
The buildup to their second Rugby World Cup match against Scotland on Monday night has been overshadowed by three-match bans being laid down on Rey Lee-Lo and Motu Matu’u.
“With our two boys getting off-field red cards it’s been a bit of a disruption, but it’s just motivated us quite a lot more to do well and go out there and perform well against Scotland,” head coach Vaeluaga Steve Jackson said.
“In both cases we thought on field it was dealt with, two yellow cards, and the mitigating factors of the attacking player dropping his body height.
“They obviously didn’t go in there intending to make contact anywhere above where the ball is.”
He said assistant coach Tuifaasisina, whom Vaeluaga called one of the best and most analytically driven defensive coaches in the world has looked at the two incidents over and over.
“Do we accept the decisions, yeah we do, do we agree with them, no we don’t.”
Tuifaasisina said the Manu train extensively around tackle technique:
“We’ve just gotta keep getting better.”
Vaeluaga said it has been a trying week, and an emotional one for Lee-Lo and Matu’u to go through what they went through.
“It’s weighed heavily on their shoulders, but we’ve managed to pick them up,” Vaeluaga said.
“They’re pretty upbeat now, they’re seeing light at the end of the tunnel.”
He said he’s also noted some media narrative around the incidents:
“We think the referees are the experts and they deal with it, there’s four officials on a gameday and we thought that they made the right decision at the time.”
The other narrative that has dominated buildup to the Scotland game is the departure of number eight Afaesetiti Amosa and need for an injury replacement.
With injury returns for captain Jack Lam and Piula Fa’asalele adding to Josh Tyrell and Chris Vui in players that can cover at least one of the six and eight jerseys, Vaeluaga thought it was key to bring in another specialist openside flanker; Alamanda Motuga.
“TJ [Ioane]’s carried a heavy workload at seven, over not just the Rugby World Cup but previously,” Vaeluaga said.
Indeed Ioane made more tackles in one match (22) than all but one player in the World Cup so far.
“Alamanda’s fit because he’s been a part of the 7s group, he’s in great condition,” Vaeluaga said.
“He understands, he’s been in our team environment, he’s got an idea of the way we wanna play the game.”