Coach set on building winning culture

The goal is simple. Win.

So says the former Manu Samoa captain who has taken over as the coach of the Manu Samoa Under 20s, Mase Mahonri Schwalger.

Speaking to the Weekend Observer, Mase said he understands the critical role he has been handed in terms of developing rugby in Samoa. The team is a picture of what the Manu Samoa senior team will look like in a few years.

And Mase wants the players to start getting used to the winning mentality.

 “I want them to win, it’s as simple as that,” he said. 

“For me, we‘ve got to make sure we build that winning culture. We need to start with the culture and then look at your rugby stuff later down the road.  

“We need to make sure we build that winning mindset and make sure they know they can do the job.”

With one month left until the U20 World Championship in Tbilisi, Georgia, Head Coach Mase said it is a challenge to prepare the team in such short notice but things are coming together. 

“It’s pretty tough,” said Mase, who has had to replace former coach, Faaofo Junior Leota who resigned.

“The short time and the short notice I had to continue the job. 

“At the moment, the boys are pretty positive. The last few days we’ve been trying to build the team spirit and make sure we have the support from the community.

“In terms of preparations and rugby stuff, the boys have been working really hard. For a lot of these guys it’s the first time ever being in the national team and they’re looking forward to it.

 “They’ve adapted really well.  My job is to make sure they’re prepared mentally for the game. Not so much physically, because they’ve done the hard yards in the last couple of months, it’s about the mental side of things. Making sure these guys know how to handle pressure especially in the World Cup.

“They’ve got to make sure they know their roles and know their patterns and the way they should play.  At the moment they’re going really well.”

Mase attended to the team in Oceania as Technical Advisor.

He identified a number of issues the team failed to execute in Australia.

“There’s a lot of basic skills that these guys lacked,” he said.

“The other thing is that if we want to compete against the top teams we need to make sure we know our role. We need to win the line out and scrums. 

“We’ve been working really hard out in the last couple of days.  Hopefully these guys will put on a good performance.”

Despite administrative changes, Mase is confident in Captain Ivan Fepuleai’s leadership skills.

“He’s a great Captain,” the Head Coach said.   

“First time I met him, he’s got that leadership skill and the boys adapt to whatever he said. Being a captain, it’s not just the leadership; also the way he performed in Oceania.  That’s why I’ve kept him as the captain for the team. Its all about performance. Once you perform as a captain, the others will follow.”

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