PM intervenes in Samoan Sevens team ahead of World Cup | Pacific Beat

PM intervenes in Samoan Sevens team ahead of World Cup

PM intervenes in Samoan Sevens team ahead of World Cup

Updated 23 May 2013, 10:50 AEST

There's been prime ministerial intervention in Samoa's preparation for the Rugby Seven's World Cup in Moscow next month.

Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, who is also the chairman of the Samoa Rugby Union has drafted Manu Samoa's most successful coach in 15s and Sevens, Stephen Betham, to lead the Samoa Sevens team's preparations for Moscow.

Fiji is also taking the tournament very seriously naming four overseas-based Fijian stars for their Seven's squad.

Both moves are an indication of the importance to Pacific Nations of the Sevens World Cup.

Presenter: Geraldine Coutts

Speaker: Nick Jordan, Pacific Beat's Sevens commentator


JORDAN: Just four weeks or probably five weeks away is the last weekend in June for the 24 mens teams and 16 women's teams. And the Samoan Prime Minister I think has had enough with the performances of his team in the last two or three rounds, particularly in London where they lost all four games, surprisingly losing three pool matches and then dropping out of action on the second day as well. Stephen Betham who was in the job for about three years won the World Series in his first year, a terrific achievement, had a really good core of players and then has been promoted up into the 15s. His replacement, Faamaoni Lalomilo who came in this time last year when Betham went up hasn't had the best of success apart from that one win at Dubai earlier in the season, so he's been given the cut. I think by all reports it's a temporary measure, he may be back in the frame for the next World Series, but obviously that will depend on how Betham and his new assistants go at this World Cup in Moscow. A really tough time for Betham to come in with the players probably with their fitness levels that they're at. they'll be tired at the end of the World season, he's only got a very short time to prepare the side for what is going to be a very, very big campaign in Moscow next month.
COUTTS: Ok and Fiji, taking it quite seriously as well, they've already picked four overseas based Fijian stars for their Sevens squad?
JORDAN: Yeah I think the number in fact is more like eight. Now they've gone to a 30-man squad and the likes of Watisoni Votu who was in London before in the last tournament of the season Mitchell  Talebula,who's back at training and playing Sevens in Fiji, guy got player of the year in the 15s, and Sevens star Nikola Matawalu, they're among the three players that are chosen, along with Alipate Raitini who's been playing rugby league in Australia after his performances at the Gold Coast Sevens last year, which of course Fiji won and that really put him into the frame for a selection for rugby league. So they are a 30-man squad now Geraldine, they'll cut that down to 16 probably after the Marist Sevens at the end of next week. And from there they'll name the 12 for Moscow. I think some people will say aren't they lucky to have all these resources to call on the Fijians, but they've been through a lot of players this year and whether they can get Alifereti Dere  and they can get the selection right, and again get them tuned up in time for Moscow. It's a very interesting question with all the turnover changes that have been through the year.
COUTTS: Well both Samoa and Fiji probably similar, been through the Sevens, tied, Fiji lost in the Plate final I think. So their tournament outings have been a bit inconsistent, so what can be done to change that for both?
JORDAN: Yeah look I think fitness is the key question. At times in London if the Fijians looked a little bit unfit, a little bit lethargic, especially in the first game of their day, so both days. So that'll be something that the coaching staff will be working on and getting them as fit and as strong as they possibly can be. Obviously it's a long haul for all of the teams from the southern hemisphere up to Moscow, they don't have a lot of time to acclimatise and Fiji will need to hit the ground running, they play Wales, Tonga and Uruguay in a tough pool. And Samoa haven't got it easy either, they've got Kenya, Zimbabwe and the Philippines. But both sides should be good enough to get through their pool but then that fitness and that mental preparation and I guess that teamwork and bonding will be very important. They've got three or four weeks to work on it before the squad is named and we certainly hope that they can get their act together as they head to Moscow. 
COUTTS: And what about the women's teams qualifying now? Have Samoa and Fiji qualified?
JORDAN: Fiji have qualified Geraldine, they got through late last year and they go into pool c alongside the United States, Spain and Brazil. But they are the only team from the Pacific, apart from Australia and New Zealand who made the final last time. Samoa, the women's team, the Manu Sina not qualifying this time around. They only take 16 women's teams at the Sevens World Cup as opposed to the 24 for men. And of course at the Olympic Games in three years time it'll be even tougher to get there with only 12 sides. The Women's World Series incidentally finished up last weekend in the Netherlands, a terrific final between New Zealand and Canada, and New Zealand got through to win that series. Neither Fiji nor Samoa represented. But interesting Geraldine also in the top eight were the likes of Russia, the United States, Australia and even Brazil. So a real spread of teams from around the world in that Women's World Series, and it could be an exciting 16 that go to Moscow next month. 
COUTTS: Alright for both the men's and the women's then it could be anyone's tournament this far out, what five, six weeks out?
JORDAN: Yes it is and we'll keep an eye on the other teams and their preparations and their squad announcements over the next few weeks. Again there's a lot of players to choose from in the New Zealand setup, South Africa, Australia, so as the days and weeks go on they'll be announcing their squads and it'll certainly be good to keep an eye on that and try and predict who's going to do what.

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