Manono raring for Lakapi Championship: coach
The Manono head coach says their preparations are on track and they cannot wait to take to the field for the 2020 Lakapi Championship.
The new four-week tournament scheduled for November is to celebrate rugby in Samoa. A total of 120 players were selected to participate in the tournament which will feature four High Performance men's teams, namely Savai'i, Upolu, Apolima and Manono and three women's teams, Taema, Nafanua and Tilafaiga.
Galumalemana Rudolf Moors told the Samoa Observer that they are ready for the tournament organised by the Samoa Rugby Union (S.R.U.) next week Friday 13 November.
"Our preparations are going well. We thank the S.R.U. for initiating such a tournament, which we can now use to revive rugby, and most especially it's the celebration of 100 years of rugby in Samoa which this tournament is based on," he said.
"But the reason being for the union wanting this is to keep our local players fit, not only physically but also mentally.
“And also for them to be selected into the Manu Samoa for next year. We have the Manu Samoa XV assistant coach, Mase Mahonri, who is the forward's coach whom we are working closely with to keep our local players fit.”
He acknowledged the S.R.U. for setting up the tournament which he emphasised will assist the development of local players as well as boost their fitness levels to where it should be today.
Galumalemana then revealed that the challenges he currently faces as a coach are players not committed to training, consequently the team only trains one day a week.
"The only challenge I face as a coach, which I know is happening to other teams as well is that players are always asking to be excused,” he said.
“I don't really know they want to play rugby but they keep asking to be excused every single day.”
Currently, the team has 30 players but during the training sessions only 28 or 29 of them turn up.
“We have 30 players, but during training it's either 29 or 28, there is always someone missing," he added.
"I'm not complaining as most of the players in my team are students and some work so it is understandable.
“So we find it hard to adjust our time in order for them all to train together and especially now, some of our players have exams.”
Those who are doing their exams have also been given flexibility by the team to do that before getting back to training.
Galumalemana indicated that some of the players have their exams this week and next week. "So we give them the chance to focus on their exams, but after their exams they will continue with their training,” he added.
“We have also spoken to those who will finish their exams on Friday and asked them to commit to training next week.
“But we have also advised them if they have free time then they can drop by at training in order to work together for upcoming games.”
Ultimately the selection of the final team to take the field will come down to players who have committed time to their training.
"As for the selection of our first choice for the match, they will be selected based on their appearance at training.
“Everything is important, like going to school and coming to training. We have also sent letters to principals and employers of each player about the schedule.”
Manono locked horns with Savaii at the weekend at the S.R.U. High-Performance Unit field with the head coach saying the match helped identify areas that they need to work on during the week.
"That is the idea of having friendly games before the tournament starts in order to see the fitness level of players. It helps us to see which areas we need to improve on, to see where our strengths and weaknesses are," he said.
"I'm also grateful to the S.R.U. Information Technology [unit] for filming the games because it helps when we do our reviews.
“It is also good because each player can watch and see which area he has made a mistake on, so he could work on improving it.
“It is also good because it avoids the other players pointing fingers," he added.
Galumalemana said it is also the firm belief of coaches that their hard work pays off when players break into the Manu Samoa squad.
"Our belief and hope as coaches are to have representatives from Samoa or local players in the Manu Samoa XV, it will be a reward for our work as coaches, because if none of these players make it to the Manu Samoa squad then I don't know what we're doing here."