15 Dec 2018

Sport: Samoa 7s encouraged despite unlucky start

10:36 am on 15 December 2018

Samoa sevens coach Sir Gordon Tietjens believes his team deserved a lot more than their final placings indicate in the first two rounds of the World Series.

The Manu 7s won nine of their twelve matches in Dubai and Cape Town but were twice denied a place in the Cup quarter finals on points differential.

Samoa captain David Afamasaga scores a try during the Cape Town Sevens.

Samoa captain David Afamasaga scores a try during the Cape Town Sevens. Photo: Mike Lee - KLC fotos for World Rugby

Despite entering the Christmas period a lowly tenth on the overall standings, Sir Gordon says beating New Zealand last weekend, with a try after the full-time siren, is a fairer indication of where the team is heading.

"The players certainly deserved to go through to the Cup (quarter-finals). I mean we played particularly well, certainly in those bigger games that mattered, and to lose out on the points differential was certainly very very disappointing," Sir Gordon said.

"Over the last couple of weeks I've been certainly very impressed with the way that the boys have conducted themselves - not only on and off the field but with improved performances, which have been certainly really pleasing and up from last year," he reflected.

"That gives a lot of confidence to the players and looking ahead to the next two legs in which I'm still hoping to see even more improvement."

Samoa coach Gordon Tietjens talks tactics.

Sir Gordon Tietjens. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Sir Gordon said the Samoan players worked extremely hard throughout the off-season and believes that dedication is beginning to pay off.

"They do have a lot of self belief now that they can get out and compete and all the work that they're doing around conditioning, around also making good choices in nutrition is starting to pay off perhaps," said Sir Gordon.

"That's what I'm actually looking at and of course trying to increase that depth that I have in Samoa as well...because you do get hammered now with a lot of injuries at certain times to crucial players and if you've got that depth coming through and the competitiveness is there with players to compete for positions then it's going to be healthy for Samoan sevens and certainly good looking ahead."

Samoa's Kirisimasi Savaiinaea cuts through the Spain defense in Dubai.

Samoa's Kirisimasi Savaiinaea cuts through the Spain defense in Dubai. Photo: Mike Lee - KLC fotos for World Rugby

Four players made their World Series debut for Samoa over the past two weeks and Sir Gordon says the new kids on the block showed plenty of promise.

"Kirisimasi (Savaiinaea), one of my young forwards: he came on against (South) Africa, he played against New Zealand and they're the teams that you measure against and how those players perform and he performed very well," the Samoa sevens coach commented.

"There were some very good players - even John Vaili the young winger: his first time in a Samoan jersey in sevens and he scored a great great try in Dubai against South Africa and also was part of setting up the winning try against New Zealand so he's also someone out wide with a lot of potential as well. There's just a couple of players in their first taste of World Series rugby and they're going to have a lot to offer in the future," Sir Gordon said.

Sir Gordon Tietjens said he'll have some tough decisions to make finalising his squad for the upcoming tournaments in Hamilton and Sydney, with Tofatu Solia and Joe Perez both fit and available for selection again.

He's also attending the New Zealand National Sevens tournament in Tauranga this weekend, where former Manu Sevens internationals Fa'alemiga Selesele and Jacob Ale are among the players he will be keeping a close watch over.

Captain Faalemiga Selesele scored the winning try for Samoa.

Former Samoa sevens captain Fa'alemiga Selesele will be competing for Hawkes Bay at the New Zealand National Sevens tournament. Photo: World Rugby / Martin Seras Lima