The current Manu Samoa 7’s players during the launch of their new apparel
By Lagi Keresoma
APIA, SAMOA – WEDNESDAY 09 MAY 2018: The latest verbal spate between the Manu Samoa Sevens players and the Rugby Union Chairman and Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, had the Union CEO and the players called into the PMs Office yesterday.
The players weren’t happy with the PM’s implication “no school before” as the reason of their inconsistent and substandard performances in the World Rugby Circuit including last months’ Commonwealth Games in Australia.
Speaking in his weekly Radio programme with Talamua Media, the PM said he sternly told the players to resign if anyone is not happy.
Tuilaepa said what he said was to challenge the team who has yet to win a tournament leg since winning the Paris leg in 2016 and followed by the failure to qualify for the Olympics.
“If they want to prove me wrong, then go out and win the last two legs of the current tournament,” said Tuilaepa.
Tuilaepa did not mix words when he told the Union CEO, Faleomavaega Vincent Fepuleai and a handful of Manu Samoa 7’s players yesterday that they were the worst Manu Samoa 7’s team.
“I intended to make them angry and for them to go out and prove me wrong,” said Tuilaepa.
He pointed out common on the field mistakes made by the players during a game to prove his point.
“These are common and stupid errors, so when I spoke harshly, they get mad when they should think of the country’s support and their tapuaiga,” said Tuilaepa.
He said he felt that his actions were justified because as leader of the country and Chairman of the Samoa Rugby Union, he is the one appealing and encouraging the public to contribute to finance the player’s salaries.
“The players are paid well….. so they need to give something back to the people who are tired of seeing poor performance from them,” said Tuilaepa.
He said if the Manu Samoa 7’s win their next games and do better, he will make a public announcement and admit that he was wrong. Until then, what he told the players remain as they are.
Players already have the skills
Due to the poor results; some members of the public are asking whether it was time to change the coach, saying there is a language and communication problem.
Tuilaepa said the players already have the skills and the knowledge to play any games; however, they need to be reminded of certain things from time to time.
“That is why the coach is there, even when they don’t need a coach,” he said.
“There is nothing wrong with the coach, but our players. They need to listen and follow the coach’s instructions and if they did that, they would have won a cup already,” said Tuilapea.
He said after a game’s first half, the coach would already know what the problem was, so all he does is remind the players of the errors and what should be done.
There are simple things that players need to improve on and Tuilaepa has seen these first hand – like the lack of commitment in training.
“The players are aware of my position within SRU. However, when they come in the morning for training, I’m already on the training bicycle, but some of them will just fiddle with the weights then spent more time playing with their mobile phone. No commitment at all,” said Tuilaepa.
He said he told the players he can easily sack them all and bring in players from New Zealand who want to represent Samoa.
However, he said the SRU’s intention is to give the chance to the local players first to represent Samoa. He then calls on the country to be patient with the players.