MS7s: Steve Onosai is Back, Paul Scanlan Out with Injury


19 February 2024, Apia Samoa. Manu Samoa 7s Head Coach, Muliagatele Fata Brian Lima, has announced his squad to represent Samoa in the upcoming double-legs of the HSBC World Rugby 7s in Vancouver and Los Angeles.

Three names missing from the previous line-up are veterans Paul Scanlan and Melani Matavao, and youngster Malakesi Masefau.

Paul Scanlan sustained a fractured forearm during training last Tuesday and will be out for three months. Stalwart Melani Matavao has returned to Moana Pasifika duties as injury cover and Malakesi Masefau is still recovering from injury sustained in Perth.

Light at the end of the tunnel is the return of speedster Steve Rimoni Onosai from injury. Onosai has recovered from a knee reconstruction and will look to ease back into the action over the back to back legs.

Two debutants have been named from the extended squad of players. Dan Patelesio is a household name in local rugby 7s tournaments, and has put his hand up in the wing position to replace Paul Scanlan.

Des Sepulona has also come through the ranks in the local rugby scene. Playing his rugby for Tama Uli, Des has spent some time in NZ and recently returned to try out for the MS7s. He covers both half back and first five positions.

The team will be Captained by veteran Vaovasa Afa-Sua, with formerly named Vice Captain Paul Eti Alesana-Slater returning to the squad.

The forwards is headlined by the exciting power runner from Fasitoo-Tai who plays his rugby with Pacific Ezy Safotu – Taunuu Niulevaea. Taunuu will be assisted with the task of power running in the forwards by Faamaoni ‘Ata’ Lalomilo.

Still in the forwards, the man with an off-the-scale high workrate, Uaina Sione, has faired well after retirning from a full knee reconstruction. Samoa’s height in the forwards will be provided by the reliable and hard working duo of Motu Opetai and BJ Telefoni Lima.

Not named in the squad in the forward positions are Levi Milford and Fuli Faafouina, still recovering from injury.

Samoa is in Pool B, alongside Australia, USA and France.

The Manu will kick off their campaign on Saturday 24th at 11:38am against Australia (Samoan local time).

The new HSBC SVNS format is being teased out this year with three pools of four teams with the top 2 advancing while the Top 8 is then filled by the best 3rd placed teams.

The format means points for and against will determine the best 3rd placed, and every pool game is crucial.

This weekend’s matches will be played at BC Place Stadium, Vancouver, Canada from 23rd to 25th February 2024.

The Los Angeles 7s will be held at Dignity Health Sports Park. Los Angeles, USA from 1st to 3rd March 2024.

Daniel M Limā