Manu Samoa 7s going for gold in front of home crowd at P.G.
The Manu Samoa 7s are going for gold in the Pacific Games, where they hope to use the tournament to build towards the Olympic qualifying Oceania Sevens tournament in November, as well as reward their loyal fans in Samoa.
Coach Sir Gordon Tietjens said player development will not be a primary focus for the tournament.
“Our goal is to win a gold medal at the Pacific Games, and we’ll be putting in what we perceive at that time is the very best team we can pick."
He said it's not very often that the Samoa sevens team gets to play in Apia, so performing well at the Games in July is a key goal for the side.
“This is a real opportunity to put our best foot forward and reward the people of Samoa for the support they’ve given the team this year."
The Pacific Games sevens tournament will be played on the 12th and 13th of July at Apia Park.
The last time the Manu Samoa 7s performed on home soil was the Oceania Sevens tournament in 2011.
This year's edition of the tournament will be held in Fiji, with an automatic qualifying position for the Olympic Games sevens competition up for grabs.
“We’ve gotta put a lot of emphasis into our buildup towards the Oceania tournament, use the Pacific Games also as a key to that," Tietjens said.
Oceania sides Fiji and New Zealand have already qualified for the Olympics through the World Rugby Sevens Series where they finished first and third.
Samoa finished sixth, three points ahead of the next best Oceania nation in Australia, but Tietjens said that doesn't guarantee they will finish ahead of them in November.
“We may be on paper favourites but sevens is very, very competitive and on any given day any team can beat any team."
He pointed to the last Pacific Games tournament, 2015 in Papua New Guinea, where Samoa came third behind Australia and Tonga and missed Olympic qualification.
“Everyone talked about Samoa as being the top team," Tietjens said.
“You just can’t look too far ahead, it’s about one game at a time."
Tietjens said he is contracted to the Samoa Rugby Union through the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, and he couldn't comment on his plans beyond that.
“My goal as I’ve always said is to get Samoa to the Olympics."