Samoa Sevens new Coach Sir Gordon Tietjens says “It will not be a quick fix, but massive improvement needed.
BY Lagi Keresoma
APIA, SAMOA – FRIDAY 14 OCTOBER 2016: Newly appointed Manu Samoa 7s coach, Sir Gordon Tietjens has assured the Samoa Rugby Union and the country that getting the 7’s team together will not be a “quick fix.”
Tietjens was responding to media questions regarding his new role and after leaving the New Zealand All Blacks 7s team after 22 years as coach.
Samoa 7s had a tough and inconsistent journey in the past year and failed to qualify for the Rio Olympics and resulted in the sacking of then coach Damien McGrath.
“All we want is a Samoan team, and I assure you, it’s not going to be a quick fix but you will see massive improvement,” Tietjens said.
He also believes that having the country’s Prime Minister as the SRU Chairman is a bonus for rugby.
“It is quite exciting to have someone that leads your country involve in Samoan rugby. It never happened to me in the past,” said Tietjens.
He applied for the position, made a presentation before the SRU Board, and was very impressed with what he had seen, and people he met in the past 48 hours.
He once said that he would not coach a team that would face the NZ team, however, at today’s press conference; he said his view has changed.
“My views have obviously changed a lot since then. But to be fair, in the last 18 months coaching NZ, I was a little disappointed over the lack of support for our sevens programme, and even though I stepped down, I did not retire,” he explained.
Tietjens will not be involved in the first World Series legs in Dubai where NZ and Samoa are in the same pool.
He said he has a lot to offer not only to the team but to rugby coaches, and believe Samoa is an island full of talent.
“I am really looking forward to my first year with Samoa,” he said.
“I feel as a coach I have a lot to offer the game, with a lot of experience, and at the same time I like to think that with my position as head coach, I can also provide a pathway for aspiring Coaches in the succession plan.”
He said the team needs to start regrouping and pull together and produce consistent performances as the 2018 Commonwealth Games in the Cold Coast, Australia is not far off.
He is also eyeing the Rugby World Cup Sevens in USA and the Olympics in 2020 in Japan.
“That is my goal as a Coach, is to get Samoa where they need to be at the top of the tree of the sevens rugby,” said Sir Gordon.
He acknowledges Samoa for the opportunity given to him to coach the national sevens team.
Asked if the lack of resources and training facilities would hinder his efforts as a coach, he pointed to Samoa as one of the most resilient countries.
“I have been to the training facility and you don’t need the big flash gym, if the facilities are there, get in and nail a session.”
He said he would love to train at Apia Park, which should be home of Samoa Sevens rugby.
“That’s where we need to be and give the opportunity for other coaches to also come and be part and follow,” he said.
He was also asked of his view on the Prime Minister who is a political leader and yet sits as Chairman of SRU.
“The Prime Minister is right behind what we want in the sevens team,” he said.
Tuilaepa not wanting to be left behind added his political rugby comment referring to why his Kiwi counterpart, John Key will never be Chairman of NZRU.
“The difference between me and Key is that he did not play good rugby as I did. That is why he could never be Chairman of NZRU. I became chairman because I played top rugby in my village,” and everyone laughed.