Welcome home, Manu Samoa!
Win or lose, Samoans will always support their Manu Samoa.
This was the overwhelming feeling at the Faleolo International Airport yesterday when the Manu Samoa touched down to prepare for this week’s test match against Wales at Apia Park.
There was a huge crowd at the Airport including a man whose face was painted with the Samoa flag.
Tusitala Misi had “Go Da Manu” slapped on the back of his head. He caught the attention of those waiting at the airport when cheering on the Manu Samoa players as they exited the terminal.
Hugs and words of encouragement in support of the team by Tusitala who called himself “Mandella Kandella.”
A round of applause broke out when the Coach Namulauulu Alama Ieremia exited and this made him emotional.
Speaking to the Sunday Samoan, Namulauulu fought back tears about the welcome the team received. Despite the 78-0 loss to the All Blacks the night before, members of the public did not seem to mind.
“I was really proud of the boys, looking at their efforts,” Namulauulu said.
“It’s very emotional obviously to come back here to see all the support and it’s awesome. It’s touched the boys and I’m sure they’ll use that in their preparation this week. It’s very heartening to still see the boys pick themselves up."
“The leadership group still emphasizing the need to focus on the positives no matter what the scoreline tells.”
Namulauulu said there were lots of positives from the loss against the All Blacks.
“We demonstrated that we can play and that’s the part from the coach’s point of view that I’ll focus on.”
“It was disappointing to lose but in reflection and after going through a little bit of review, my message to the players at half time was that we came here to find out who we are and find out more about some of the systems that we wanted to plan.”
The coach said he was encouraged that the team remained very competitive at the start but they need to do that for the full eight minutes.
“I was very proud of the boys. I was very proud of the intent they showed; at that stage we were asking questions of their defense."
“And I think that was great how the boys stuck out with our game plan and it really tested them for the first 30 minutes but unfortunately with anything against the best team in the world, if you turn ball over you’re going to get punished.”
The heavy loss has devastated the players.
“It was very emotional because we lost. To me I’ve been in changing rooms where it’s easier to come in and brush that off and try and be positive quickly and pretend nothing happened."
“You know with the music blaring in the stadiums, in the past. But last night I know there was a very immediate shift around and the emotions that attached to this team about winning."
“No matter what the performance was about they wanted it, they truly believe that we could push them to get a win." “Unfortunately we didn’t, we were far from it.”
Namulauulu had to be strong for the team and told them to keep their heads up.
“In terms of efforts from the boys last night after the game, I said to them to keep your heads up. If it means we lose the battle to win the war, it’s really important. We have to put that into context."
“The biggest game coming up now is Wales in front of our people and Tonga for the qualifications.”