Tietjens impressed by Samoa 7s newcomers

TA
By Thomas Airey, 13 December 2018

Manu Samoa 7s coach Sir Gordon Tietjens is pleased with the performance of his side through the first two rounds of the World Rugby Sevens Series.

Samoa finished 9th in Dubai and 10th in Cape Town, leaving them 10th in the overall standings of the ten-round competition.

Tietjens said the team have played tremendously well, and were unlucky to just miss out on the Cup quarterfinals twice in a row.

“If you take it back to the Oceania Sevens as well, in the last 18 games we’ve had just four losses.

“We’ve now started producing consistent performances.”

Tietjens got his first ever win over his former side New Zealand at the Cape Town Sevens last weekend, when Tila Mealoi scored a length-of-the-field try after the siren to seal the 21-17 victory.

“To win it like we did at the end was really pleasing, especially off the back of the tough game against South Africa before that,” said Tietjens.

“We’re able to lift ourselves for the big teams, so we just have to bring those efforts in every game because there are no easy ones.”

He said the Manu Samoa 7s certainly have potential, with a lot of young players.

“Kirisimasi Savaiinaea (24) is potentially a very good player from Savaii.

“Plus other newcomers like Ricky Ene (21), Johnny Vaili and Johnny Samuelu (both 23).”

Tietjens also values the experience of Alamanda Motuga (117 Series matches), Tomasi Alosio (138) and captain David Afamasaga, and he said their performances have been outstanding

Motuga is the Series’ top tryscorer so far with 12 from 12 games, and he picked up the DHL Impact Player Award for the most off-loads, carries, line-breaks and tackles at the Cape Town round.

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Meanwhile Afamasaga was named to the Cape Town 7s Dream Team.

He is one of the New Zealand-based players who have returned home for Christmas, with the Samoan-based contingent coming back here to spend the holidays with their families.

However Tietjens said his team will only get a few days off before getting back to work next Monday.

“No one can afford to lose any conditioning.

“They all have programmes they adhere to, and we are testing all the time.

“If guys slacken off, they won’t get selected.”

Tietjens said there’s also a chance of players coming into the Sevens setup to gain eligibility for the Manu 15s side before the Rugby World Cup next year.

A player formerly capped by another international team could become eligible to play for the Manu after a three year stand-down period, so long as they have a Samoan passport and play five rounds for Tietjen’s 7s team.

This is the pathway former All Blacks Sevens player Tim Nanai-Williams took to change his international allegiance to Samoa.

Tietjens said anyone to join his squad would need to be fully committed.

“I’ll be having meetings and discussions with Samoa Rugby Union high performance manager Zane Hilton and Manu Samoa coach Steve Jackson about guys coming on board.

“We’re lucky enough to take 13 or 14 players for each round, so there’s room for one or two to come in.

“Of course I’m wary of upsetting our existing contracted players.

“The Manu is 7s and 15s, so it’s about what’s best for everyone.”

The fifth-to-last Sevens Series round is in Vancouver on the 9th and 10th of March.

The next round begins in Hamilton on the 26th of January.

TA
By Thomas Airey, 13 December 2018

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