The Manusina 7’s are set to play the first day of Olympic qualifiers in Monaco (tonight in Samoa) and Head Coach Auimatagi Sapani Pomare says he has full confidence in the local players selected to take up the repechage tournament in Monaco.
The Samoa women’s teams are usually a mixture of local and overseas based players, however, border closures and travel restrictions have made it difficult to include New Zealand and Australia based players.
Coach Auimatagi says the situation is a blessing in disguise, allowing Samoa to field an all-local side for the qualifier tournament. The Head Coach says local players have trained hard over the past several months, and it good to be able to select more of them, when it became known that overseas-based players were out of question due to covid.
“Over the months of training and preparation, we could really see an improvement in fitness and skill level of the local players, with more and more of them putting their hand up for selection,” said Auimatagi.
“So when the decision was made by our management and SRU to take an all-local team, it was well deserved for this team”.
The side is captained by Apia Maroon’s Saelua Leaula, 23, who has also featured in the Manusina 15’s and played at Oceania level. She is supported by the most capped player, 22 year old Elisapeta Leti. Supporting as a senior player is the second most capped player is the squad, Lomi Mulipola, 21, who played in Samoa’s Under-18 sevens team for the 2015 Youth Commonwealth Games held in Samoa.
The Samoa women’s side have not played an international tournament since 2019 at the Oceania Sevens in Fiji and the Head Coach says that’s the only issue leading up to this repechage is not having the opportunity to test players at high level internationals beforehand.
One to watch is the youngest in the squad – 19 year old Faalua Lefulefu who started her journey with the Safata Women’s Rugby Team, and starred in the secondary schools tournament back in 2017. She caught the attention of selectors and made the Manusina squad in the same year, while she was still only 17 years old. Faalua has since joined the Apia Maroons and hasn’t missed a Manusina Oceania campaign since. She also starred for Samoa in the 2019 Pacific Games.
Speaking to Samoa Global News from Monaco, Team Manager Seifono Misili says the team is well and just waking up to the first day of competition.
“O loo manuia uma matou i le alofa ma le agalelei o Le Alii”.
“We have two matches today. Our first game is against Russia at 11:20am, and then we have Argentina at 4pm in the afternoon,” said Seifono. “Then we play Mexico on the Sunday.”
“Thank you Samoa for your support and especially for your prayers;
“We are all well and the team is in good spirits. We have worked hard to prepare and we will be giving it our all today”.