The Manu Samoa Sevens management and squad have arrived into Cape Town South Africa for the Rugby 7s World Cup.
Head Coach Muliagatele Brian Lima has made just one change to the side that came 4th at the Los Angeles 7’s two weekends ago.
Paul Eti-Slater has come into the squad to replace Fa’afoi Falaniko, a backliner who often comes off the bench for Steve Rimoni in the squad selection.
Falaniko is serving a three-match ban for a tackle against Australia in their 3rd/4th place play off match in LA.
After being served with a yellow card at the time, match officials imposed a 6-match ban which dropped to three after an appeal.
Falaniko, a 20 year old from the Pacific Ezy Tepatasi club in Aleipata, debuted for the Manu Samoa 7’s in 2021 at the Olympic repechage in Monaco.
Falaniko is the youngest player in the Samoa Sevens squad by a few weeks, from amongst five other 20-year-olds in Muliagatele’s squad.
Falaniko had to return to Samoa after LA, but will rejoin the team when they return to Apia after the World Cup.
Paul Eti-Slater plays his 7’s rugby for the Lauli’i Lions. Grandson of former Prime Minister, the late Hon Tofilau Eti Alesana, the 24-year-old also debuted for Manu Samoa 7’s in Monaco last year, and will look to make an impact for Samoa when he gets his opportunity in South Africa.
Samoa has a tough road at the Rugby World Cup 7’s this weekend. With no qualifier tournaments due to covid, Samoa is disadvantaged due to the results from four years ago when the SGT-coached side failed to make the Top 8.
The format this year is Samoa will first play in a preliminary round, with 15 other teams.
The Top 8 from the last World Cup will sit out that first round of matches. They will wait for the bottom 16 teams to play each other first.
Only 8 teams from the bottom 16 teams, which include Samoa, will then advance to play the top 8 from the last World Cup.
In Samoa’s scenario, they will play Uganda in the pre-round. If successful, they will move on to face USA who had finished in the top 8 at the last Rugby 7s World Cup.
If successful against USA, Samoa can then move on to the quarter-finals of RWC.