Local players dominate Manu Samoa 7s squad

The Manu Samoa 7s squad who will play in the Olympic repechage tournament in Monaco late this month will all be local players.

Head Coach Muliagatele Brian Lima together with his assistant Faamaoni Tausa Lalomilo, have been training with the local players for months at the High-Performance Unit oval at Tuanaimato.

The Manu Samoa 7s squad are Vaafauese Apelu Maliko, Uaina Sione, Vaovasa Afa Sua, Melani Matavao, Steve Onosai Rimoni, Faafoi Falaniko, Bright Tapeneko, Paul Scanlan, David Tavita, Tipa Sapeti, Neueli Leitufia and Paul Eti Slater.

According to Radio New Zealand reports, the lack of managed isolation and quarantine in New Zealand has forced out former All Blacks players who were not able to join the team.

In a recent zoom press briefing between the Samoa Observer and Lakapi Samoa General Manager Seumanu Douglas Ngau Chun, he said that there's nothing they can do for these players due to New Zealand’s quarantine laws.

"We cannot do anything because New Zealand owns the managed isolation and quarantine those players can play but they don't have a managed isolation and quarantine and we cannot guarantee their return back to New Zealand after the matches are over," he said.

Out of the 12 players, six have played in international tournaments while the other six are yet to make their first appearance in international rugby with the match in Monaco being their first.

A question was recently posted to the Manu Samoa 7s Rugby Facebook on the fact that there were more local players in what is a must-win match for the team. The post drew a lot of reaction from fans from around the world.

"Lakapi Samoa had raised the prospect of selecting European-based former All Blacks in Monaco, who would be able to switch their international allegiance to play for Manu Samoa 7s, but have ultimately stuck with a squad of local players including six new caps, who have been training in Samoa under head coach Muliagatele Brian Lima," the post reads.

But Seumanu, in an interview with Radio New Zealand, said that the players were unable to secure slots in New Zealand's managed quarantine facilities after the tournament so will instead have to return home early.

"The issue with the quarantine sites in New Zealand is one of the reasons why they weren't able to compete because they need MIQ sites on their return, but unfortunately we can't secure that for them," he said.

"Hence why we've focused on a full local squad, and we maintain our priority of making sure that we qualify for the Olympics."

Alamanda Motuga, Losi Filipo, and Tomasi Alosio will also be missing from the Olympic Repechage tournament.

"So unfortunately we are not able to have any matches with any of the international teams so we will be going straight to Monaco without any matches."

Seumanu said one benefit in selecting locally-based players for the Monaco tournament is that the players know each other well and have been training together for a number of months, under the watchful eyes of coach Muliagatele Brian Lima. 

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