23 Dec 2015

Sport: Alama Ieremia appointed Manu Samoa head coach

11:47 am on 23 December 2015

Namulauulu Alama Ieremia says after ten years as an assistant he's ready for his biggest challenge yet as head coach of Manu Samoa.

The former Samoa and All Blacks midfielder was confirmed in the role at an SRU Board meeting last night, replacing Stephen Betham, who resigned after a disappointing World Cup campaign.

Alama Ieremia has been appointed Manu Samoa head coach.

Alama Ieremia has been appointed Manu Samoa head coach. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

The 45 year old says it's important to learn lessons from the Manu's World Cup campaign and his immediate attention will be on restoring pride in the team.

"Leadership starts from the top and right through the whole organisation. We will obviously go through the [Rugby World Cup] review and address some of the lessons that came out of that. Certainly from my point of view, leadership really starts with an understanding of high performance and making sure we implement that right through all the teams that are at the elite level so it's something I'm really excited to be a part of and, having that background, I suppose it's something that I'm pretty keen to stamp very early in my role. [I'm] certainly looking forward to it and there are a lot of good people that have done some good work for the Union and that but I suppose I'm coming in to actually start something new and something fresh and exciting for Samoan rugby".

Namulauulu will also work as the Samoa Rugby Union's new Director of Coaching and will lead the coaching of all Samoa's national teams as well as his duties with Manu Samoa.

He says the terms and length of his contract are still being confirmed.

Manu Samoa assistant coach Alama Ieremia.

Namulauulu during the 2015 World Cup, where he was an assistant coach. Photo: AFP

He was recommended by a five-person selection panel chaired by former All Blacks captain Graham Mourie and made up of SRU and World Rugby representatives.

It will be the first head coaching job for the 45 year old, who has spent the past decade as an assistant coach with Suntory in Japan, Wellington and the Hurricanes in New Zealand and Manu Samoa since 2014.

He was a part of the Manu Samoa coaching staff during their underwhelming World Cup campaign, where they finished fourth in their pool and failed to qualify for the quarter finals or the 2019 tournament.

Manu Samoa assistant coach Alama Ieremia.

Alama Ieremia is stepping up from an assistant's role to be the new Manu Samoa head coach. Photo: AFP

SRU Chief Executive Faleomavaega Vincent Fepuleai says the announcement represents another giant step in the modernisation redirection of Samoa Rugby to develop and grow the game in Samoa, and to develop winning teams.

"We are delighted that Namulauulu will lead our coaching programme, in particular, taking on the Head Coach role for Manu Samoa. We are fortunate that one of our own sons, has been emerged from a highly competitive process, as the best choice for Samoa Rugby".

"As a professional coach, he knows what is required to deliver results, and as a Samoan, he understands the humility he will need to rebuild support for the team".

"While there were some very competitive applications, Namulauulu's experience as a leader, his communications skills, and immense knowledge and experience in coaching made him a stand-out candidate".

"We know that Namulauulu shares our vision and desire for the Manu Samoa to be successful on the international stage. He has the playing and coaching pedigree to ensure our national team is organised, professional, competitive, and playing the type of exciting rugby we know is possible".

"We will now begin work on helping to build a solid team of coaches and management around Namulauulu. We congratulate him and wish him the very best".

Namulauulu Alama Ieremia himself says he's honoured and humbled to be chosen for the position but knows there is a lot of work to do:

"I am realistic about the challenges that face our Union and our rugby teams. It's exciting to be part of the changes at SRU and my first priority will be to align how we develop our work on the field, with the priorities set off the field".

"It is a privilege to be Head Coach of Manu Samoa and as a former player, I know it comes with great responsibility. It is important to learn lessons from this year's disappointing World Cup campaign and my immediate attention will be on restoring pride in our team".

Manu Samoa coach Stephen Betham, left, manager Sami Leota, centre, and co-coach Alama Ieremia at the team announcement in Apia today.

Stephen Betham [left] resigned as Manu Samoa coach after the World Cup and has been replaced by his assistant coach Alama Ieremia [right]. Photo: RNZ / Sharon Lundy

"We will work hard to regain the respect from our stakeholders both locally and abroad and I'm determined to help rebuild Manu Samoa and improve our world rankings. I know that we have the talent, the skills and the passion in players to deliver this for us".

"While I know there has been much disappointment from our people, I want to thank the people of Samoa for their unwavering support. We ask for the public's support and patience as we begin the work of developing and rebuilding, a strong, proud Manu Samoa."