15 Nov 2018

Sport: Manu Sina claim underdog status for Championship

2:02 pm on 15 November 2018

Samoa are claiming underdog status for the Oceania Women's Rugby Championship, which kicks off in Lauokta, Fiji tomorrow.

The Manu Sina haven't played a test match since finishing 11th at the Women's Rugby World Cup four years ago and have 23 new caps in their squad to take on hosts Fiji, Papua New Guinea and Tonga over the next week and a half.

The Manu Sina team training in Fiji.

The Manu Sina team training in Fiji. Photo: Oceania Rugby

Despite being the only Pacific Island nation to compete at a World Cup (in 2002, 2006 and 2014), head coach Ramsey Tomokino doesn't believe they will be the favourites this time around.

"We'd definitely be underdogs - we haven't had an international programme for a long time," he said.

"We are fortunate that we have had girls playing up in the Farah Palmer Cup (in New Zealand) and the Super W (in Australia) up to quite late in the piece, so that's a bonus for us.

"We've already watched a couple of Fiji games already when they played Hong Kong and they played Japan - they're actually not too bad so certainly we've just got to focus on first game against Papua New Guinea and then we've got to play Tonga and then we finish off with a game against Fiji."

The Manu Sina team arrived in Fiji on Monday.

The Manu Sina team arrived in Fiji on Monday. Photo: Oceania Rugby

Ramsey Tomokino said playing Fiji in Fiji is going to be a massive challenge.

"Certainly they being the Oceania Champions from the last time the Oceania Cup happened - which was between Fiji and PNG only - they've got the mandate of being the number one seeded team," he said.

"And then obviously with PNG being second and us and Tonga having not had (a women's) fifteens programmes for a while we've fallen behind."

Samoa and Papua New Guinea open the competition tomorrow before defending champions Fiji face Tonga in Lautoka.