Manu Samoa 7’s Head Coach Muliagatele Brian Lima has a made three changes to his squad ahead of the HSBC 7’s Legs in Dubai and Capetown.
All three players have been selected in the Manu Samoa 7s before and look to make a big return.
Pelosi “Jimmy” Taupo makes the cut of tbe 14-player touring squad after leading his Marist St Joseph’s rugby club to win the 4th leg of the national Vodafone series.
Faafoi Falaniko was also instrumental in Tepatasi’s win in the Vodafone 3rd round and makes his return after missing out on Hong Kong due to Injury.
Tuna Tuitama who was called back into the training squad after a strong Vodafone 7s tournament for the Apia Maroons has also made the cut.
Manu Samoa 7’s Captain Melani Matavao was not available for selection due to a concussion injury. Matavao has had a few concussions in the past year and Muliagatele says he has been given time to rest.
“Melani suffered another concussion in Hong Kong so the decision was made to rest him for these two legs,” said Muliagatele in response to questions. “It was a decision about putting player welfare first.”
Neueli Leitufia, Paul Eti Slater and the addition of Jimmy will give the management options for the gap left by Matavao.
Speedster Paul Stanley who was the 13th man in Hong Kong has missed out on selection with the return of Falaniko and continues to train in Muliagatele’s wider squad at the High Performance Unit in Samoa.
The squad includes Manu 7’s key players who have consistently made the squad last season. Vaafauese Apelu Maliko, Steve Rimoni Onosai, Uaina Sione and Vaovasa Afa Su’a, Paul Scanlan, Owen Niue, Neueli Leitufia and Levi Milford
In the forwards Samoa has named both powerhouses in Motu Opetai and Taunu’u Niulevaea.
The Manu Samoa 7’s arrived into Dubai earlier this week, well ahead of next weekend’s tournament.
Having camped in Dubai for several months during Covid, the Manu 7s consider Dubai a hometown and Head Coach Muliagatele says this is something new they’ve requested for this season.
“We used to arrive just a few days before the tournament but we found that didn’t give us enough time to prepare,” said the Head Coach.
“The boys have settled in well and we’re grateful Lakapi Samoa that we can arrive one week before the tournament”.
“The players are well. They’ve put in the hard work and are looking forward to the Dubai and Capetown legs.”
Dubai 7s is on the weekend of 2-3 December followed by Capetown 9-11 December.
Samoa are pooled with Canada, Japan and USA. Click here for analysis of pools for Samoa in Dubai.