Samoa name powerful squad to tackle Dubai
Samoa Sevens coach Rudi Moors has named an outstanding 12-man squad full of experience and panache for the first two events of the IRB Sevens World Series in Dubai and George, South Africa.
While other coaches will be blooding fresh talent at 'The Sevens', Emirates Airline's brand new stadium in Dubai, Moors travels with 12 seasoned players and seems to have drawn inspiration from New Zealand's peerless form last season.
Samoa's coach picks five powerhouse forwards in his squad of 12, namely Simaika Mikaele, Ofisa Treviranus, Alafoti Faosiliva, Apelu Fa’aiuga and Jerry Meafou, who returns from injury.
Sevens' most capped player Uale Mai again captains the side from scrum half, while Lolo Lui adds guile and Mikaele Pesamino genuine pace to a backline also boosted by the return of Mark Tanuvasa, who returns to the Series following a three year absence and consistently high performances in Samoa’s Digicel National Sevens Series.
“Tanuvasa was in impressive form throughout the [domestic] series and has deserved his selection into the team - his experience and leadership will be an added plus for the team this year,” said Moors.
In recent times Samoa have struggled in Dubai and George - last year they lost against England and Argentina respectively in the last eight - but they have finished third in the World Series standings for the past two seasons.
In winning the London Sevens last year they were one of only two nations to deprive New Zealand of Cup silverware but Moors now wants a strong start.
“Going over our performances over the last two years, Dubai and George is where we seem to stumble," he said
"We need to be competitive right from the very start, and not wait until Wellington or San Diego to do this”.
Uale Mai has joined Moors in demanding more consistency and focus from the team.
A lot of old heads
“We have a lot of old heads in the team this time, which should give us a bit more composure, especially when the pressure is on,” said Mai.
“We seem to struggle a bit in the pool rounds, and only pick ourselves up in the knock-out rounds, which comes down to a lack of consistency.”
“Cutting out mistakes both with ball in hand and on defense is what we aim to do, and that requires full focus, starting from our approach at training all the way to the full time whistle. And if we can do that, then the results we want may come our way.”
On the strength of this selection, Samoa's chances of World Cup success in March also look good, but Moors is refusing to look beyond the first two legs of the Series.
“Yes, the Rugby World Cup is important for the team and country but we can’t afford to look past Dubai and George as well as Wellington and San Diego," he said.
"We need to focus first on getting everything right there, before talking about the World Cup. Dubai is important, we haven’t done well here lately and that’s something we want to fix.”
Samoa Sevens Squad:
Forwards: Simaika Mikaele (Vailele), Ofisa Treviranus (Malie), Alafoti Faosiliva (Laumua o Tumua), Apelu Fa’aiuga (Moata’a), Jerry Meafou (SCOPA). Backs: Uale Mai Capt (Marist), Lolo Lui (Moata’a), Reupena Levasa (Vailele), Mikaele Pesamino (Vailele) Timoteo Iosua (Vaiala), Alatasi Tupou (Vaiala) , Mark Tanuvasa