Manu Samoa Sevens in need of a playmaker

Coach and [layers in huddle and debriefing after a training session

Coach and [layers in huddle and debriefing after a training session

BY Alan Ah Mu

APIA: TUESDAY 29 OCTOBER 2013: Manu Samoa 7’s management might as well put up an advertisement that points to a key need.

With Patrick Fa’apale departed to Manu Samoa 15s the shorter code needs a playmaker.

Gone to the national 15s side also for the 15’s northern hemisphere tour is Fa’atoina Autagavaia.

If the two do well on tour they might land contracts “and we might lose them forever,” said Viliamu Punivalu.

They’re all cheering for the two said Punivalu.

But their exit means the selectors are on the outlook for replacements quite possibly for the long term.

Players who aspire to replace Fa’apale and Autagavaia, or win selection to national honours generally must use the local sevens circuit which kicked off last Saturday to stake claims – in the Manu side to take on the next campaign in the IRB Sevens World Series, the Dubai leg on 29-30 November.

They have three legs of the circuit to grab the attention of the selectors to book a flight to Dubai.

Trials are scheduled for 12 November to help the selectors decide.

“The team (for Dubai) hasn’t been picked yet,” said Punivalu.

A 21-player squad train twice daily Monday to Wednesday at the High Performance Unit gym so some players are in the radar and under more focused attention at this stage of preparation for Dubai and beyond.

After steaming through undefeated in the Mini Games and Oceania tournament, where they beat Fiji at home convincingly and Australia, Manu 7’s flopped in the first IRB World Series leg, the Gold Coast tournament.

Punivalu is, like manager Malo Nofoagatotoa, new at the helm and thus life at the World Series level as were five of their players in Gold Coast.

“So it’s a learning curve,” said Punivalu.

Given that they weren’t expecting to grab the crown in Australia.

“But we thought we were going to do better than that,” said the coach.

Amongst reasons for why they didn’t was stage fright and they do need to do more work at the break down area, he said.
“The aim is to do better than in Australia,” he said.

Samoa is placed 7th in the IRB 7’s ranking.

When the team left many thought the captain was Patrick Fa’apale who got that job for the Oceania but in the Gold Coast it was revealed to be Reupena Levasa.

Levasa was picked as captain for Gold Coast before the team left for the Oceania in Fiji, said Punivalu.

“It was always Reupena.”

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