12 Nov 2020

Manusina feeling focussed for Tonga rugby clash

12:40 pm on 12 November 2020

The Samoa women's rugby team is on track for their World Cup repechage qualifier match against Tonga this weekend.

Manusina in camp ahead of their match agains Tonga this weekend.

Manusina in camp ahead of their match agains Tonga this weekend. Photo: RNZ / Talei Anderson

The squad assembled again in Auckland on Sunday, after holding a three-day trial camp in Taranaki last month.

Head coach Ramsey Tomokino said building team camaraderie early on meant they can now spend more time focussing on the gameplan.

"We're quite pleased with the outcome of the camp and what we want to achieve here," he explained.

"So we just put together the bones of what we wanted to start with and it's been useful because we've hit the ground running here, so I know this is day three but after day one it already felt like it's been a week with the girls."

It's been a year since Samoa was outclassed by Fiji 41-13 in the Oceania qualifying final in November 2019.

Tonga earned their showdown against the Manusina after defeating Papua New Guinea in March before their match, which was originally meant to take place in Apia in April, was postponed because of Covid-19.

More recently, the European championship, which would determine who the winner of this weekend's match would play in the final Rugby World Cup Qualification Tournament next year, was also postponed.

Tomokino said the unsettled year has helped the Manusina mentally prepare for any scenario that comes their way.

"It has been quite a long campaign but personally for me that's been okay. When you've been coaching a long time, you learn to cut your teeth at club level because it prepares you for anything," he said.

"You just get used to 'okay this has happened, move on. This has happened move on,' and you just adapt and I guess it's the nature of us Polynesians as well where we become adaptable. We just accept what some things are."

"Covid is an annoyance and it may play some part again in the future with the repechage game, and if that's the case again touch wood, someone might say that if we get the result on Saturday 'why don't we just put Samoa in there' because we're Oceania, Pacific flavour and I'm sure we'll add value to the tournament, but we are prepared for whatever comes our way and we've just got to focus on winning this game first."

Up to 14 new caps have been selected for the wider Manusina squad, which features a first-time debut for players from Northland and Tasman.

Eleven players featured in New Zealand's Farah Palmer Cup provincial competition, while five are fresh from representing the Fetū Samoa rugby league team which played the Kiwi Ferns in a rugby league test last weekend.

Tomokino said there are some sore bodies in their squad.

"There's a few of the girls that played for Fetū Samoa last week but I know they're going to back up. I'm confident in this group and every day we get better."

"I think that goes back to the value of the pre-camp, because we were able to instil some of those things early and now we're just adding to it. But we're carrying 27 and we probably need to let go of one, but we might not."

The Manusina are expected to announce their final squad today.