Moataa squad preparations on track
Preparations by the Moataa rugby team for the upcoming Apia Rugby Union Sevens Series are on track, says head coach Leaana Malo Nofoagatotoa.
In an interview with the Samoa Observer, the head coach said they are happy with their preparations despite the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions.
"We are very happy that our players have time, and are available despite the pandemic restrictions we are in,” he said. “But I believe it's in us to help develop and build our players' talent.
“It's the usual practice routine, we start testing their fitness and their strengths in their performance this weekend.”
The goal is to improve the club’s placing in the current tournament, according to Leaana as they were the top team in previous years.
"At the moment, we are working on moving Moataa's spot upwards, as it was our pleasure to have seen that we were number one in previous years,” he added. “That is what I'm trying to tell my boys and to ensure that their happiness is maintained in this rugby season.
“There are so many changes during these times.
“Part of the preparations requires them to be happy and to use their God-given talent wisely."
Inexperience and the lack of game exposure is also a factor that could work against the team, Leanna notes, as there are some members of the squad who are new to rugby.
But the head coach says with the right coaching and development the players can be transformed into a formidable team.
"Some of our players are experienced and some are inexperienced so I always emphasise the combination between those players so that they can understand each other.”
He says the main focus is in "using the ball" and "making it to the try line", and anticipates the upcoming tournament this weekend at the Apia Park stadium being about speed, which makes fitness key.
Leanna said the team has to work harder because not all players are from Moataa, and the weather and distance travelled by some players can be a hindrance to their training.
"Not all our players are from Moataa. some are from Vaitele and the heavy rain we've had lately, has meant some players cannot make it to training."
The team will also compete in the upcoming 33rd Vailima Marist International Sevens Series this month.
"If you look at the Marist International sevens history, Moataa has had a 5–7 years championship ever since it started.
“So our spirit of supporting the Marist sevens can never be erased, they are the clubs that have been in Samoa who helped develop rugby so Moataa will never miss Marist sevens, so yes they will compete.
"We had sponsors, most are the companies run by our Moataa people so they usually lend us a helping hand if needed.
“But we are currently looking for other sponsors to support our team's needs."
He added there is much to look forward to with the upcoming rugby season and he hopes the team will enjoy their games and make Moataa proud.
"I acknowledge our players, and also our village for their continuous support, especially since the rugby season for this year is about to begin,” he said.
“I humbly request our village and our boys to stay committed to our training and also for a change in our team so that we can end this rugby season successfully.”