Nafanua coach praises team's effort

Nafanua coach Toluiva Keneti Alapati has praised her team’s performance in the first week of the National 7s Trials where they won three out of four matches and racked up 93 points.

The team held Tilafaiga scoreless in their first match last Thursday to come out 25–0 victors, though they went down later 15–10 to Taema.

Last Friday they overwhelmed an equally determined Tilafaiga 20–12 before turning on the razzle dazzle in their second match of the day to blow away Taema 38–10.

Toluiva hopes her team will continue to improve going into the second week of the National 7s Trials this Thursday and Friday.

In an interview with the Samoa Observer, the coach said the team’s focus this week is to correct their mistakes from their last four games and embrace teamwork, despite their different backgrounds.

“We are working on our fitness, working together and fixing our mistakes from the previous week,” she said. “Those are the only areas we are looking at and plus we all know that the girls come from different backgrounds, just like the boys.

“But the girls there is a lot of work that needs to be done for them, if we look at how long they were training for, they were all the same. 

“But for the selection into the long squad that will all be up to the player.”

The coach hopes a lot of players in her team are selected into the Manu Samoa 7s Long List Squad.

“These are trials so I challenge them that by the end of this campaign at least 80 per cent of the team is being selected into the squad. 

“By looking at the nine or 10 players I have left, I’m estimating that maybe seven or eight players can get in, judging by their performance last week. 

"There are no use winning games and in the end only two or three players make it through.”

Nafanua captain, Lomi Mulipola, has been one of the team’s standout players in the last four games.

However, Toluiva says that while winning games is just a bonus, it also helps the players in their Manu Samoa selection aspirations.

“It’s all about them getting together, just like other coaches, it is never about winning, winning is a bonus. 

“For Nafanua winning is indeed a bonus. But we cannot win if they don’t work on the game plan and what we discussed, but that win can help get them selected.”

The coach is a big believer of teamwork and says it will enable her team to reach their destination, though fears of injury to players continues to worry her.

Last week the team only had nine players and Toluiva had to come up with a game plan that would best fit the number of available players in her team. 

“But we cannot reach that if they don’t work on the game plan and everything that has been discussed.

“From the two days and it’s a physical contact sport so they need to stay alive. 

“For our players that have minor injuries, after our games on Friday we provided the usual first-aid treatment, and today most of them have recovered. 

“So when they came in they went to the physiotherapist to be cleared and to have them checked again.”

Toluiva says an important issue facing rugby is for players to avoid injuries, hence her focus on the players’ mindsets to aim for fitness, speed and power in their training regime.

“That’s the important factor in rugby is for players to avoid injuries. 

“If she is training for how many weeks in this campaign and then she gets injured that would be her loss. 

“So my hope is for them not only to play but to last so we train them to get fit, speed, and power – all in all, it’s all about their mindset.”

If a player’s mind is not working, the coach believes his or her goals cannot be achieved, though she hopes they will also play smart.

“Most of the time, I tell them that they have to play smart, if they are smart enough, they will last for 14 minutes. 

“But if they think they can use physical and their bodies to attack and for defense by the end of the seven minutes she will be worn out.”

Toluiva also applauded the support of her team’s parents as well as the contribution of the clubs her players came from. 

“I want to acknowledge the hard work of the parents and their clubs for allowing the girls to come in and train,” she said. “Without the parents' support, they wouldn’t be able to showcase their talents and without their clubs, they wouldn’t be here. 

“So I actually give credit to the parents and clubs.”

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