29 Nov 2017

Sport:Contracted players a huge boost for Samoa 7s

2:17 pm on 29 November 2017

Samoa sevens coach Sir Gordon Tietens says having a pool of contracted players is a huge step towards building depth and competitiveness in their team.

22 players have been contracted by the Samoa Rugby Union for the new season, which kicks off in Dubai on Friday.

The Manu finished a lowly 13th on the World Series last season, and only managed to make the Cup quarter finals once in ten tournaments.

Samoa impressed but Fiji strugged at the Paris Sevens.

Samoa were left well adrift last season. Photo: World Rugby / Martin Seras Lima

Sir Gordon Tietjens said he has the ability to contract up to 24 players and still has some spots available.

"Hopefully it's going to work for us. We've certainly started particularly well and we're a lot fitter this year and of course we've made some shifts in good directions and got some new youth in there as well, which always excites teams and provides lots of energy," he said.

Samoa finished in third place in the 2006/07 and 2007/08 World Series campaigns and won four of the final five tournaments in the 2009/10 season en-route to the overall title.

But Sir Gordon Tietjens said it's been almost a decade since Samoa was a consistent force on the global circuit.

"And unfortunately all those players disappeared off to the UK and not having them contracted you can't really hold on to them," he said.

"But we've made some changes around high performance now and we'd be disappointed if we don't improve because I've certainly got some great expectations.

"It's not about winning every tournament or winning a tournament, it's just being more consistent in our performances and slowly pushing our way up that ladder."

Sir Gordon Tietjens was unable to coach Samoa at the Dubai and Cape Town legs of last season's World Series because he was still under contract with New Zealand Rugby.

With a proper pre-season under his belt, the former All Blacks Sevens mentor is expecting improvement.

"That first year or nine months or so that I had with them it was all about learning about the players, which is really really important, and at the same time I was still looking to build some depth in amongst the side," he said.

"I've spent quite a bit of time on the island and we've built quite a bit of depth off that island as well now and knowing these players a lot better and the style which they can adapt to.

"I've had to change a few things and we're hitting our straps pretty good at the moment so I'm certainly hopefully looking for massive improvements and our goal, I suppose if I was being realistic, is to hit that top eight this year and that's a realistic goal."

Alatasi Tupou (L) will captain Samoa in the upcoming sevens season.

Alatasi Tupou (L) will captain Samoa in the upcoming sevens season. Photo: PHOTOSPORT


"There's probably about six or seven new caps that weren't part of the World Series last year on top of some of the new younger ones, who had their first season on the World Series and are better for that experience," he said.

"And I've also got some very good experienced players in the side that have been going very very well in Tila Mealoi and Alatasi Tupou and of course Tomasi Alosio there and I've got a couple of very good forwards that have forced their way back as well.

"And (former captain) Faalemiga Selesele is fully entrenched into sevens this year where last year he was sort of being pulled between fifteens and sevens, and when that happens you don't quite get the best out of the players when you really need to."

Samoa open their Dubai Sevens tournament against New Zealand on Friday and also face the USA and Argentina in pool play.