4 Mar 2017

Sport: Samoa and Fiji ready for Las Vegas Sevens

11:53 am on 4 March 2017

Samoa have forgone some pace and selected a team with power in mind for this weekend's Las Vegas Sevens.

The squad has been bolstered by the return of former skipper Faalemiga Selesele, new captain Afa Aiono and Alex Samoa.

Head coach Sir Gordon Tietjens said the narrow field at Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas requires a different kind of approach.

"The field isn't the full width of a normal rugby field so there's going to be a lot more contact, there's a lot more set plays, so that's where it's a real challenge."

"I've actually named a side built around more physicality," Sir Gordon said.

"Perhaps it's the players that you sacrifice in these particular types of games are the ones with the wingers I suppose with the real pace, because they just don't have any room,"he said.

"So we're looking certainly to win the contact and hence I've named a bigger side perhaps physically than I normally would have."

The Manu are 13th after four rounds of the World Series and are yet to reach the Cup quarter finals this season.

Sir Gordon admits their poor results to date make it even tougher to get out of their group.

He said they have addressed a number of failings from Wellington and Sydney, that would hopefully pay dividends.

"I mean they had nine yellow cards in four tournaments, which you're just going to keep punishing yourself and you're not going to do any good whatsoever in tournaments if you going to always offend, so we've certainly addressed that," he said.

"We've also addressed other areas, certainly around the tackle - the chop tackle - and also getting rid of those 50/50 [passes] and looking to dominate in the contact."

Samoa have been drawn in a tough pool alongside England, hosts USA and Chile but Sir Gordon said if they do the simple things well then they would have a chance.


Fiji were knocked out early in Sydney.

Fiji were knocked out early in Sydney. Photo: World Rugby / Martin Seras Lima

Fiji's hopes for a hat-trick of World Sevens Series titles could slip further away if South Africa maintain their ominous start to the current campaign.

The Blitzboks have tasted Cup success in Dubai, Wellington and Sydney, with a runners-up finish in their home tournament, in Cape Town, the only blemish in the first four rounds.

Fiji are third in the overall standings, 21 points adrift of the series leaders.

Coach Gareth Baber said South Africa are undeniably the team to beat.

"I think we're all playing sort of catch-up behind that a little bit and as the series progresses you will probably see a lot more teams getting settled in the way that they play the game and hopefully for us it will be settled, in terms of the personnel that we have in the squad as well."

"The level of competition we are operating at, there are still areas that are developing that sometimes get found out so the next couple of weekends is probably going to be decisive in terms of what the tournament looks like, but certainly for us as a squad it's another a challenge, another opportunity a test to see where we're at and how we're moving forward."

The men's and women's tournaments kick off in Las Vegas later today.