5 Nov 2015

Sport: New coach ushers in new era for Samoa Sevens

1:02 pm on 5 November 2015

The Samoa Rugby Sevens coach Damian McGrath says he knows all too well the pressure to succeed in rebuilding the national programme.

The Englishman has been in the job two months now after working with the English and Welsh sevens programmes.

McGrath has been preparing his first 12 man squad for the upcoming Oceania tournament in Auckland later this month.

He says since being in Samoa he has experienced the passion the nation has for rugby.

"Wherever I go, going shopping. People want to know how the team are, are we going to win. I can imagine if things don't go too well, the reverse will happen, having seen how the public received the Manu after the World Cup. They weren't happy, so I understand how important rugby and rugby success is to the people of Samoa."

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Photo: Photosport

McGrath says as a foreigner he will bring a fresh perspective to the national programme.

He says his experience will help the rebuilding process.

"I'm coming in with a fresh pair of eyes. I have no preconceived ideas about who are the best players and who aren't. I think from listening from what's happened previously is that favourites have been picked and the team hasn't always been picked on merit and if I can bring anything, I will be picking on merit. I think I have proved this by the squad we've brought here. There are one or two big names who have not made the squad because they are not quite ready yet. I think in times past, teams have been picked on names and names alone."

McGrath has named the following squad for next week's Oceania Sevens in Auckland:

Faalemiga Selesele, Lio Lolo, Fetufou Setu Laga, Tofatuimoana Solia, Francis Ieremia, Jay Saena, Phoenix Hunapo, Danny Tusitala, Tila Mealoi, Fale Sooialo, Siaosi Asofolau, Samoa Toloa.

Former captain Lolo Lui has not made the traveling squad because of injury but is part of the non-traveling reserves.