Samoa seek mental toughness for Vancouver Sevens challenge

By Michael Hudson

Samoa coach Gordon Tietjens is hoping his side can stay focused during the Canada Sevens in Vancouver this weekend after reaching the final in Las Vegas only to lose 27-0 to hosts United States.

Tietjens, the former New Zealand Sevens coach, is preparing his side to face defending champions Fiji, Kenya and hosts Canada during the group stages of the HSBC World Sevens Series competition this weekend and wants his players to retain their focus.

He said they were guilty of losing concentration at critical moments during matches in the past and their second-placed finish in Las Vegas was more a result of an improved defensive showing.

“Our scrambling [defence] was good,” he told Radio New Zealand. “Once we got connected in the line we started to make good chop tackles rather than going in for the big hits and it was about just being smarter on defence and not over-committing around rucks.

“That’s one of the areas that we’ve really had to work on because we used to get exposed trying to look to counter-ruck when it certainly wasn’t on. Turning all that around of course you make smarter decisions, better decisions and it works for you so our defence was certainly better than it has been.”

Tietjens said that despite the one-side defeat by the USA Sevens in the final, he was happy with their overall defensive performances during the tournament.

“Even [in the final] against the States I thought at times we really defended well but they held on to the ball for so many periods and it was really, really hard. In the end something’s got to give and unfortunately it was us,” he said.

Samoa have failed to qualify for consecutive cup quarter-finals since 2016 and Gordon said the aim of the team was to build on their strong performance in Vegas.

Fiji will turn to Captain Kalione Nasoko and forward Mesulame Kunavula to lead them to victory as they look to defend the title they won a year ago.
Samoa are getting ready. Other teams should be wary of them.

Main photo: Samoa’s Joe Perez charges against the USA defence. Credit: Mike Lee – KLC fotos for World Rugby

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