11 Dec 2018

Sport: Manu Samoa coach still open to using 7s loophole

11:32 am on 11 December 2018

The coach of Manu Samoa remains open to working with players who want to switch their international allegience to play for the Manu at the 2019 World Cup.

Players wanting to switch must compete in five tournaments on the current World Sevens Series, which doubles as an Olympic qualifier, provided they have a passport for the second country and have completed a minimum three year stand-down period.

Samoa's Tim Nanai-Williams is tackled by England's Piers Francis.

Tim Nanai-Williams switched allegience from New Zealand to Samoa. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Samoa sevens coach Sir Gordon Tietjens said earlier this month he had had no discussions with players wanting to use the Manu Sevens as a backdoor route to test rugby.

But Manu coach Steve Jackson said while the chance of adding high profile additions to his playing stocks was unlikely, he wasn't ruling anything out just yet.

"It's always an avenue," he acknowledged.

"I think Tim Nanai-Williams is probably one of the only people I know that has done that through that avenue, and it's a difficult one because if you're talking to guys in Europe they've got to be released from their clubs to go and play sevens tournaments.

"We've had some guys put their hands up and say that they'd be interested but we've got to be very very careful around eligibility rules and make sure that we are absolutely clear who's available (and) what we need to do to make sure that they can get on the field for us (at the) Rugby World Cup if we are keen on having them in our group."

Manu Samoa coach Steve Jackson and SRU Chair and Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi.

Manu Samoa coach Steve Jackson and SRU Chair and Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi. Photo: Supplied/Samoa Government

Samoa will face Six Nations champions Ireland, Scotland, tournament hosts Japan and Russia in pool play at next year's World Cup.

A number of players have reached out to Jackson about wanting to play for Samoa next year and the coach was looking at all options, he said.

"If we can make it work for some of the guys we've got on a list that'd be great but it is a long shot and it is a difficult avenue to go through at the moment because you do have other employers involved that have contracted these players that make decisions around whether they can be released or they can't," Jackson said.

"I just hope some decisions in the near future will be best suited for the player because there are some rules that hopefully World Rugby can look at because I think it only hampers the player at the end of the day, his opportunity to play for his country, so I'm pretty sure those guys will sit around a table in the years to come and make some adjustments there."

Japan centre Male Sau holds off Samoa's centre Paul Perez during their Rugby World Cup pool match.

Samoa also played Japan in pool play at the 2015 Rugby World Cup. Photo: AFP

With the Dubai and Cape Town legs of the World Sevens Series completed, just eight tournaments remain in which to qualify players already capped by another nation.

Jackson admitted time was not on his side but said it was important they do their due diligence first.

"They probably wouldn't be playing in the games before Christmas anyway and that was just a reality because their club seasons have only just started and things like that," he said.

"The reality is that they wouldn't be playing until early next year so we're working behind the scenes at the moment around some of the players that we haven't contacted directly but just making sure before we do that we're absolutely clear on what needs to be done.

"We're talking through the agents and then we've got to approach the club - whether it be a Super 15 club, whether it be a club in Europe - because at the end of the day they're employed by those clubs and then they've got to come and play on the sevens circuit."

Ther's been little for Manu Samoa fans to cheer about in recent times.

Manu Samoa fans show their support. Photo: Photosport