8 Apr 2021

NZ based players out to impress Samoa 7s selectors

11:39 am on 8 April 2021

Redemption and the Olympic dream is fuelling the fire of the Samoa Barbarians sevens side, which is participating in a major tournament in Wellington this weekend.

The Samoa Barbarians players are hoping to impress selectors ahead of the Final Olympic Qualification Tournament in Monaco.

The Samoa Barbarians players are hoping to impress selectors ahead of the Final Olympic Qualification Tournament in Monaco. Photo: RNZ Pacific/Vinnie Wylie

Eight men's and women's teams will compete over two days at Hataitai Park, as Tonga, New Zealand and Samoa step up their preparation for the Tokyo Olympics.

The Samoa Barbarians includes six players who have represented the Manu on the World Sevens Series, including incumbent captain Tomasi Alosio.

He was a part of the Samoan side that lost in the final of the Olympic repechage event four years ago and said the players want to redeem themselves in Monaco in June.

"Losing to Spain in the last play was really heartbreaking so that's what kept most of us in, is just keep the Olympic dream alive to come back and really find any opportunity to be an Olympian.

"It starts here now really. Leading into June we've just got to put in the hard work...and just going over there knowing that we're going to give it 100 percent."

Tomasi Alosio is one of six internationals in the Samoa Barbarians squad.

Tomasi Alosio is one of six internationals in the Samoa Barbarians squad. Photo: RNZ Pacific/Vinnie Wylie

With borders still closed because of Covid-19, only New Zealand based players were considered for selection.

Tomasi Alosio captained Samoa at the last World Sevens Series event in Vancouver and it excited to be back representing his country, albeit on a smaller scale.

"The last tournament was in Vancouver last year in March, so that's the last time the World Series happened. It's been a year now and been getting itchy feet but it's nice to kind of get things going," he said.

"Four of us here that were in Vancouver so it's good to have some kind of experience along with some new blood generation which will help Samoa Rugby grow."

Former Samoa Sevens captain David Afamasaga.

Former captain David Afamasaga is among the experienced heads in the Samoa Barbarians side. Photo: RNZ Pacific/Vinnie Wylie

Former Samoa internationals Sam Rasch and Doug Sanft are coaching the team this weekend, with help from Manusina coach Ramsey Tomokino.

Rasch said it was an "honour and a privilege" to be asked to help Samoa's bid to qualify for the Olympics.

The Director of Rugby at Wellington's Scots College was looking forward to seeing some exciting young players make their mark in a blue jersey.

"Some of the young players that we've selected: Steven Va'a, a local from Wellington, Fritz Rayasi and Cephus (Salaivao) from Auckland. They're a couple of young boys that are keen to put their hand up - they could be putting their hand up for New Zealand also but they've put their hand up to play for Samoa."

Samoa Barbarians co-coaches Sam Rasch and Doug Sanft oversee training.

Samoa Barbarians co-coaches Sam Rasch and Doug Sanft oversee training. Photo: RNZ Pacific/Vinnie Wylie

The Samoa Barbarians kick off their Takiwhitu Tūturu campaign against the Tonga Invitational team tomorrow morning, before facing the All Blacks Sevens White and All Blacks Sevens Black.

Sam Rasch said the next two days will show them where the Samoan players are at, and where they need to be.

"We want to try and be competitive in all facets of the game and then if we can get a couple of wins and be in the final then that's a positive for us.

"But the main goal for us is obviously to get through this campaign and for players to put their hand up for Brian (Lima) to pick them to go to the qualifiers."

Manu Samoa sevens coach Muliagatele Brian Lima.

Manu Samoa sevens coach Muliagatele Brian Lima. Photo: Samoa Rugby Union

With a squad of locally based players continuing to train in Samoa, under Manu Sevens coach Muliagatele Brian Lima, Tomasi Alosio said the onus was on the Barbarians players to perform.

"It's an opportunity we won't take for granted and hopefully we put our best foot forward this weekend to really show the coaches over there in Samoa that we're really keen going into that Olympic Repechage."

"Comms have been very good, especially from Brian and the SRU over there. They've been keeping on top of it and just always checking in daily how we are and how we're progressing here, so to get this opportunity will give them a fair idea of what we've been doing this last year."

The Samoa Barbarians kick off their Takiwhitu Tūturu campaign against the Tonga Invitational team on Friday morning, before taking on the All Blacks Sevens White and All Blacks Sevens Black.