Sir Michael Jones says Samoa needs to nurture its natural rugby talent pool


Savae La’auli Sir Michael Jones at the opening of the Wine and Food Tasting Trade Expo 2018 today

By Rula Su’a – Vaai

APIA, SAMOA – MONDAY 25 JUNE 2018: Sir Michael Jones, the former All Black and Manu Samoa coach says Samoa needs to continue developing its natural rugby talent pool as the pathway to improve rugby in the country.

Sir Michael is in Samoa taking part in the Frankies inaugural Wine and Food Tasting Trade Expo 2018, and was asked for his views on Samoas current rugby performance on the intrenational scale and the development of the sport locally.

He says attention should be on where programmes such as School Boys rugby, and Super Nine are progressing in the overall development of Samoan rugby.

“Samoan rugby always has an amazing natural talent pool, but we need to see what is happening with the school rugby programme – whether its thriving and whether the Super 9 Tournament,” he said.

“We got to look at what is happening, to build pathways locally and from there we get the best players, put them in the Academy and continue from there.”

On Saturday this week, Manu Samoa 15s will take on Germany at Apia Park for a spot in the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan. Playing infront of a homecrowd that had been deprived of the performance their team is capable of, the pressure is already on the players and according to Sir Michael, it is a must win situation for Samoa.

“It is a big event, it is a crossroad for us and Germany is an upcoming force and Manu Samoa has always been a force, absolutely,” said the former Manu Samoa coach.

The qualifier comes at the back of a winless Manu Samoa June campaign against Fiji and Tonga in the Pacific Nations Cup that a much improved Iakletahi from Tonga team won last weekend.

“We’ve got to win, and they know it,” said Sir Michael. “And if things really go well over the weekend, they can pick up from there heading towards the Rugby World Cup.”

He said the team still has time to turn things around, keep building and perform well at World Cup and he is confident that the boys in blue will get past it.

“We cannot underestimate Germany, but being here, and being new kids on the block, they are going to be a difficult challenge for our boys. But like I say, once they get past Germany on Saturday, and move on to the World Cup, then we can see where the team is actually at in terms of performance.”

Prime Minister and Union Chairman, Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Sailele Malielegaoi also sent a clear message to the Manu Samoa team during the opening of the Wine Festival.

“We should beat them, because this is the most inexperienced team in the world, and if we do not beat them, then we should wind up.”

Be it from the Prime Minister or not, Sir Michael believes it will be a challenge for the boys in blue come Saturdays decider.