Manu Sevens change four for Hamilton, Sydney
The Manu Samoa Sevens team has been named for the Hamilton Sevens this weekend.
But speedster, Kelvin Masoe, will have to wait to make any further impact on the World Rugby Sevens Series, with the winger missing out on Manu Samoa 7s selection for Hamilton and Sydney.
The 20-year-old made his debut during Samoa’s poor Cape Town 7s performance in the previous leg of the series, but this time has missed out on the final 13, and hasn’t been named among the non-travelling reserves.
Returning to the side are former skipper David Afamasaga, Va’afauese Apelu Maliko, Laaloi Leilua and Uaina Sione which means Masoe will not be on the plane to New Zealand on Tuesday.
Afamasaga takes the place of Kerisimasi Savaiinaea in the forwards, although Tomasi Alosio retains the captaincy he has held throughout the 2019/2020 season.
Leilua missed out on the Cape Town leg having returned home to support his measles-stricken family, while Uaina Sione is primed for a Series debut as he returns from injury.
Va’afauese Apelu Maliko is back for his first tournament since the 2017/18 Series, in the absence of Belgium Tuatagaloa who has taken up a contract with London Irish.
Phillip Luki’s relegation to a non-travelling reserve role is the final change to the squad, where he joins a recovered Melani Matavao and Pesamino Iakopo.
Head coach Sir Gordon Tietjens will be hoping the changes add some life to the Manu’s 2020 campaign, with Samoa sitting in seventh place overall after a shocking 14th-place finish in Cape Town.
They’ll be up against it in Hamilton though, having been drawn into what looks like the hardest possible pool to advance from.
The Manu 7s will face Pool D rivals Fiji this Saturday at 2:47 pm Samoan time, before another game against Argentina at 8:05 pm.
Anything less than two wins from those two matches will make it nearly impossible for the Manu to advance as Pool D champions, with their final matchup coming against Australia at 1:35 pm Samoan time on Sunday.