Manu Samoa Sevens Team Manager, Peter Poulos and Head Coach, Sir Gordon Tetjens painstakingly answering the medias questions about the current teams performance
By Gerwin Polu
APIA, SAMOA – 12 FEBRUARY 2020: Manu Samoa Sevens continuing slide to a 13th placing in the World Series is due to the lack of players depth and lack of consistency.
Fronting the media this afternoon, Head Coach, Sir Gordon Tetjens identified lack of players depth and lack of consistency as the major factors as mirrored in the teams current performance after three tournaments where it slid from 6th place in 2019 to 13th.
Tetjens said his team started the series off well in Dubai getting into the semifinals and finishing fourth. Then a disappointing performance in South Africa and the lack of consistency in Hamilton and Sydney.
“What we have at the moment is a totally new team, we’ve been slammed with injuries,” he explained.
“We are bringing in some young new players as it’s important we build depth. Missing major players such as Belgium Tuatagaloa, Siaosi Asofolau, Alamanda Motuga who is injured, Melani Matavao who hasn’t played since then, Tila Mealoi who is no longer in the sevens programme, and there’s lack of depth in the team from last year when the team finished 6th.”
But he is confident in the potential of the young players blooded in and he referred to the two results in Hamilton where the team lost on full time to France due to bad officials call and Argentina on a last minute infringement.
“But what concerns me is our slow starts. Starting slowly in the game means you’ve got to chase the game, and that’s when it’s tough.”
But the lack of consistency remains a concern with players switching off between games.
“At training today we talked about mental toughness and mental toughness is about attitude, for instance in Hamilton where we played very well and probably very well to beat Fiji. Then we turned around and had a disappointing game against Argentina after a 7 hour gap,” Tietjens explained.
“Players switching on and switching off. We talk about it in training every day that every time you play a Canada, a Wales or Japan, you go with the same mind set like you’re playing a Fijian team.”
Tietjens also pointed out that the new format where there are no more quarterfinals is a major challenge that is working against Samoa.
“Unfortunately, at the moment, we just don’t have the depth.”
With a very inexperienced team based on game time, Tietjens drew a parallel of the current teams game time together against a player like Tim Mickelson of New Zealand whose played 90 games.
But he is bringing in young players and give them game time and experience to build depth in the Manu Samoa team.
But there are big shoes to fill and fighting an uphill battle against sides like New Zealand with 5 All Blacks in the team and South Africa with practically two teams just as good as the other.
Of the 16 contracted players in the Sevens programme, there are 11 fully fit players.
Team Manager Peter Poulos called for the country’s continued support as there are more tournaments to go as the team strives to qualify for the Olympics.
“We’re not asking for sympathy, but the realities are not black and white. We fight uphill with everything we do in player resources, finance, officiating calls…you name, it,” said the former Manu Samoa player.
“We ask for continued support. Nobody wants to be where we are, at 15 or 13, we strive to be better. We have six more tournaments left. Give us that support and time. At the end of the day, the main goal is the Olympics.”