Mapusua Seilala Mapusua and Muliagatele Brian Lima have been backed to succeed in their new roles as the head coach of Manu Samoa and the men's national sevens team.
The former international teammates have signed two year deals after their appointments were endorsed by the Samoa Rugby Union Board.
Former Highlanders and London Irish Mapusua is light on head coaching experience - having led the Otago Under 19s in New Zealand for the past two years - but former Manu Samoa halfback Tino Junior Poluleuligaga said the news was refreshing.
Tino said Mapusua was an intelligent coach and believed he wouldn't be out of his depth.
"He's done some rep coaching down in Otago, he's done a lot of coaching development to try and upskill and I think he'll be the perfect man for the job and the right guy to really lead Samoa."
"He hasn't had the high level coaching experience that some of the other candidates have had or some of the previous coaches, but what he does bring is a lot of integrity and respect for Samoa and the jersey."
The Director of Rugby at Auckland's Papatoetoe Rugby Football Club, who played alongside Mapusua in the national team, was pleased he had been given an opportunity, despite the Samoa Rugby Union previously insisting candidates must have at least five years experience coaching at Super Rugby or an equivalent level.
"I'd like to think they had a really good look at the candidates and who's going to be the right person for the job and it makes sense that Seilala [got the job], being a strong advocate for Samoa Rugby for Pasifika Rugby as well [and] knowing what he brings on and off the field," he said.
"He's well respected and if he can surround himself with high level coaches then that could really support him and really help him in his first couple of years of coaching, but no doubt he's intelligent and I know that he's got a really good plan in place to make sure that he grabs this opportunity with both hands."
Excited to lead a collaboration between with our South clubs East Tamaki, Manukau Rovers, Otahuhu and @PapatoetoeRFC in this new club led U21s initiative. Working together to grow and strengthen our respective clubs and South Auckland community. #Grassroots pic.twitter.com/V3r3sTFwBv— Tino Junior Poluleuligaga (@JIP2EZY) August 6, 2020
Former Samoan captain Semo Sititi agreed it was important Mapusua has good people around to support him.
"He's well planned and very technical... He's got another three years before the World Cup but I know he always has something planned, he's big on that and that's a good thing and [goes well] with experience," he said.
"Brian is tough, he loves fitness. Everybody knows what he's up to and he never gives up in anything that he wants to achieve."
Sititi said that mental toughness would hopefully be passed on.
"I [know] both of them will do their best to bring that attitude to those teams and that's what everybody wants."
Sititi said ex players he's spoken to were pleased to see their former teammates giving back to Manu Samoa jersey.
"I think they're happy that these guys have played for the Manu Samoa in the past and they've served their country very well and now they are going back to give back the country which is great news for all of us, it's just a matter of putting it forward from here."
Samoa Rugby Union defends Lima appointment
The Samoa Rugby Union is standing by the appointment of Muliagatele Brian Lima to lead the Manu Samoa sevens team, despite his previous conviction for domestic assault.
The most capped player in Manu Samoa history escaped a jail term in 2014 for assaulting his former wife and her partner.
He was found guilty of five charges including causing grievous bodily harm, being armed with a dangerous weapon and issuing threats.
RNZ Pacific's correspondent in Samoa, Autagavaia Tipi Autagavaia, said some rugby administrators in the country were concerned a person convicted of domestic assault has been appointed to such a high profile role.
"You know there is some concern from some people from the past of the new sevens coach because he's a very aggressive guy, remember he was convicted for assaulting his wife. So he's got a conviction on family violence [and] I don't know how the rugby union looked at that."
SRU Chief Executive Faleomavaega Vincent Fepuleai said Muliagatele's prior conviction was not considered during the appointment process and the Union's view is that the matter had already been dealt with in a court of law.
"Brian is the first to admit that his actions back then has been a terrible mistake and he has let his family down and a lot of people that look up to him as a role model. He admitted it and deeply regretted it," he said.
Muliagatele stood down from his roles with Samoa A and Manu Samoa in 2013 but has worked as an assistant coach with the men's sevens team and head coach of the Manuma Samoa team in Rapid Rugby in recent years.
"He has worked incredibly hard to rebuild his character and with the support of his family and friends," Faleomavaega said.
"SRU is of the opinion that Brian will live with consequences of his actions for the rest of his life, however, we've always believe that he is a far better person and deserved a second chance to rebuild his life and get involved in the game that he loves."