The Manu Samoa 7s have selected a strong 12-man squad for the Pacific Games in the Solomon Islands, with 10 debutants.
Fuli Faafouina of Saoluafata and Vaiala Ulalei Club has been named Captain with Tama Uli’s Uaina Sione returning from a knee reconstruction to take up the Vice Captain role.
All players except the Captain and Vice Captains are putting on the blue jersey for the first time.
The highly anticipated Sol2023 Pacific Games Rugby 7s tournament will commence at Honiara’s National Stadium today, Thursday 23 November.
With a total of 13 men’s and eight women’s teams gearing up for action, anticipation is soaring for a tournament promised to be packed with intense rivalries and fierce competition.
A total of ten matches for men and four for women are scheduled on day one, promising a day filled with non-stop action.
The 7s kicks off at 11am on Thursday with hosts Solomon Islands taking on Tahiti in the men’s competition.
Reigning Pacific Games rugby 7s champions Fiji, who won both the men’s and women’s events at the Samoa 2019 Pacific Games, are aiming to defend their coveted title.
Men’s 2019 silver medallists Samoa and bronze medallists Tonga will strive to improve their positions in challenging for gold this time around, whilst hosts Solomon Islands will have the backing of the home crowd in their quest to create history in scooping a maiden medal.
Fiji brings in a youthful squad with a strong desire to defend their title, while Samoa will aim for redemption with a robust line-up featuring 10 newcomers.
Tonga will seek to replicate their rugby league 9s success and add to their medal tally, while the host nation, Solomon Islands, aided with recent international support from an Australian coach, will look to create upsets on their home turf.
Other notable teams to watch out for are Cook Islands and Vanuatu.
In the women’s tournament, Fiji will be looking to defend their gold medal and, with Samoa 2019 silver medallists Australia not competing, Papua New Guinea (PNG) could pose the biggest threat against the defending champions.
Others also in the mix include Cook Islands, Tonga, American Samoa, Wallis and Futuna and hosts Solomon Islands.
Rugby 7s continues until Saturday 25 November. Tickets are at $30 SBD and can be purchased from the Sol2023 ticket booth at the National Stadium or from Our Telekom in Point Cruz.
Meantime another team of Manu Samoa 7s players are training in Auckland in preparation for the start of this season’s HSBC 7s international series in Dubai scheduled for 2-3 December 2023.