11 November 2021 Apia Samoa. Samoa Sevens Head Coach Muliagatele Brian Lima says the upcoming Vodafone National 7’s will test the skill level, strength and fitness of his current squad, and open opportunities for other players to put their hand up for selection.
Responding to questions from Samoa Global News the 7s Head Coach said the Vodafone series, set to kick off this weekend at the ACP Marist Stadium, was a request by his management for a tournament that would give his squad members game time, and open up selection for players in key positions still needed for a complete squad.
“Due to the difficulties of travel with Covid-19 restrictions, we have missed out on the opportunity to join the first legs of the World Rugby Series being played at this time of year, so this series will allow the players to showcase what we’ve been working on..
“There are also key positions needed to complement the talent in the current squad, such as a specialist high ball jumper, power forwards and speedsters”, said Muliagatele.
The Manu 7s Head Coach said there are many up and coming 7s players in Samoa, and this series will give his management a good chance to further identify talent.
“Samoa still hasn’t been able to replace players like Simaika Mikaele when it comes to high balls, especially at the kick-off..
“We also need power forwards like Alafoti Faosiliva and Ofisa Treviranus, who had both size and speed.. and there is still room for speedsters that are good at both attack and defense,” said the former Samoa International.
Players named by Muliagatele belonged to the legendary 2010 Manu Samoa Rugby Sevens team that won the World Series title under Head Coach, Masoe Steven Betham. Samoa rugby 7’s has not been able to equal that performance in the past decade.
Muliagatele said they had identified and selected Theodore MacFarland at last year’s national 7s series, but later lost the 6 foot 6, 115kg Moamoa Roosters double international to the 15s game, and then to Saracens in the UK.
“Theo is now playing his rugby in England and that is the nature of developing players.. there’s always the risk of them moving on, but that just means we have to identify the next player, and develop the next talent”.
Muliagatele said the Vodafone 7s series will also test if players can consistently perform for two weeks in a row, and then front up for another two consecutive weeks of matches in the following month.
“That’s how the World Series is programmed. So this will get our local players used to being consistent, to play week in week out and maintain a high level of performance,” said Muliagatele. “In the past we’ve seen how they play really well in the first week, and then drop off on the second week”.
As announced in a press conference held yesterday by Tournament Director Seiuli Salesa Seiuli and Development & Competition Manager Taala Tui Komiti, the Vodafone National 7s Series will be played in November through to January, with two tournaments held each month.
There are 24 places for mens teams and 8 for women’s teams. The first leg will be held at the ACP Marist Stadium at Lotopa this weekend 12-13 November 2021, followed by the second leg on the 19th-20th of November at Apia Park Stadium.
That will be repeated with two consecutive weekends in December (10-11 and 17-18) as well as January 2022 (14-15 and 21-22).