Manu Coach returns to Samoa, drawing board ahead of World Cup
Manu Samoa Head Coach Vaeluagaomatagi Steve Jackson rued missed opportunities in the team's loss to Fiji on Saturday but struck an optimistic note as he prepares to select a squad for next month’s World Cup.
Vaeluaga said the Manu set the direction of play in the final round of the Pacific Nations Cup (P.N.C.) against Fiji despite being walking away with a 10-3 defeat.
“I think in possession and in territory we were way in front; we controlled the game pretty well,” he said.
“I was pretty happy. Did we deserve to lose? I’m not too sure.
“The scoreline doesn’t reflect how our team went. We have [to] make sure to capitalise on those areas [in which] we should have scored."
The Manu had some key misses, including a wayward attempt at a penalty goal by UJ Seuteni in the opening quarter while a turnover inside the opposition 22 metre line set up a blazing attacking play and eventual try from Fijian winger Vereniki Goneva.
Manu Samoa were denied attempts to cross over the try line themselves, despite game statistics showing they controlled 66 per cent of possession and more than three-quarters of territory in the match.
“We [gave a] turnover and Fiji capitalised on it,” Vaeluaga said.
“That’s what they do.
“I think we did everything to win that game, just a couple of things didn’t go our way”.
Vaeluaga said the team’s coaching group would now review the performance of eight debutantes who earned their first international starts during the P.N.C. but also the depth of talent not available for the tournament.
“There’s a handful of players that aren't here,” he said.
“We’ll get back to Samoa and, as a coaching group on Monday, reflect on the P.N.C. and how performances went here, not just on-field but off-field and how everyone has jelled together.
“We’ll select the squad from there.
“These guys here got the first opportunity to put their hands up and that was part and parcel of what the P.N.C. was about.
"They made it hard for us.”
Manu's captain for Saturday's game, Jack Lam, said of Saturday’s loss: “We put ourselves in a good position to win the game a couple of times there: a couple of calls didn’t go our way”.
Samoa's first game for this year's Rugby World Cup in Japan is on September 24 against Russia at 8:15pm local time.