Manusina focussed on Australia A as Fiji qualifying clash looms

With Samoa’s crucial Rugby World Cup qualifier coming up on Saturday, one might forgive the Manusina for looking at Tuesday’s game against Australia A as little more than a distraction.

The team will play for a spot at New Zealand 2021 against Fiji on Saturday, regardless of their result in the third round of the Oceania Rugby Women’s Championship on Tuesday in Lautoka, Fiji.

But the Manusina and their coach Ramsey Tomokino don’t see it that way.

“Given the lack of games Manusina has had in the past, it’s still an opportunity, an opportunity to play Australia,” the coach said.

“And an opportunity to get things right that we didn’t get right last Friday.”

The Manusina lost 26-7 to the tournament hosts Fiji last week, who have a bye in the third round of the championship because of Tonga’s withdrawal due to measles.

“We’ve thoroughly reviewed it, we’ve seen where we went wrong. If we can just capture our first 10-15 minutes and multiply that by four we might’ve put up a different result,” Tomokino said.

He said part of the loss was down to his side not sticking to their game plan and structure.

“We went to one-off running which is not what we’re about. We kept being repetitive, we kept being predictable.

“So I challenged the girls on the field that we need to troubleshoot when things aren’t going right, and change things.”

And on the other side of the ball?

“When we broke it down, the tries they scored were just really communication errors, and those are the things we’re working really hard on fixing,” Tomokino said.

He said he put the team through a relatively more physical training session on Sunday, which they enjoyed.

“I challenged our ladies on being too passive, being too soft, we need to be a bit more aggressive at the breakdown, we were too nice,” Tomokino said.

“We showed a couple of clips of our cleanouts where we were just pretty much dancing with them, instead of effectively cleaning.”

Having addressed what went wrong last time out, the coach said his team are really up for Australia A:

“We’re just really looking forward to getting out there tomorrow and getting things right.”

Tomokino said he expected more from Australia A in their 53-0 loss to the Black Ferns Development XV, but noted the team from New Zealand could make most sides look ordinary.

“I’m sure [Australia A will] be targeting this game as a win because they will want to go away with a win,” he said.

“They didn’t kick so much against New Zealand but I’m expecting that they will try turn us around.”

Tomokino said the Manusina have been focussed on the people back home in Samoa battling the measles epidemic in their buildup to the match.

Twenty-five lives have been lost to measles in Samoa in the last two months, including the nephew of Manusina back Linda Fiafia.

“We’ve spoken about, with everything that’s going on in Samoa now, we’re a team that can give Samoa some joy,” Tomokino said.

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