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Manu Samoa’s veteran fly half Tusiata Pisi remains to play an integral part in Manu Samoa’s Northern Hemisphere tour next month.
In announcing his 31 man squad Monday, Head Coach Steve Jackson was adamant about Tusi Pisi’s selection, amidst public criticism.
“I believe Tusi still has a lot to offer in a team environment. He is an outstanding professional and we are looking to establish a high performing program and he will play an integral part in this.
“Also with the makeup of the team, there a few new faces and returning ones so to have his experience is going to be great. If I had any doubts that I can’t get the best out of him, he wouldn’t be there,” he said.
Jackson sees Tusi Pisi’s inclusion as critical for other game drivers.
“His role will be critical for our other game drivers to learn from and he has some good opposition in D’Angelo Leilua and a couple of other players that can play 10. We will be looking to play our best team week in week out to build momentum into the RWC,” said Jackson.
He has retained most of the old heads in the team with a number of new young blood. Eleven players in the squad play their rugby in New Zealand with twenty of them playing in Europe.
The team has three new recruits in the likes of North Harbour hooker Raymond Niuia, lock Benjamin Nee-Nee and Hawkes Bay midfielder Stacey Ili.
The new Head Coach has a tough road ahead especially with the short amount of time given for his team to assemble but he has already identified areas from previous Manu Samoa matches that need improvement.
“We will be looking to continue some of the good work that has already been done to keep some continuity, but a big focus will be on defense especially set piece, defense and really attacking the ball when we haven’t got. We will also be working on our kicking game, our game management and how we really finish teams off when we get in front. We will be looking for consistent performances on this Tour.”
Asked about some of the changes that he would introduce into the team, Jackson acknowledged competition for places as one of the keys.
“Competition for places is a key. No one by right has the jersey for the first game, we are trying to build depth and the players going on this Tour get the first opportunity to show us they want to be there next year. Clarity on the game plan and making our men better players on and off the field for their experience in our environment.”
The November tour includes tests against USA, 10 November at the Anoeta Stadium, San Sebastian-Spain. The second game will be against Georgia 17 November before the final outing with the hosts – Spain 24 November.
It will be a stepping stone for Jackson to understand the players and for them to get used to his coaching style.
“But also realise there will be players on this tour that will be available for the Rugby World Cup and we’re looking to build competition.
“Those that are selected to go away there might be some guys that aren’t on tour that will be at the Rugby World Cup, there will be some guys may be left behind just so that we can introduce some new blood to see where some of these players are.
“The most important thing, I think, leading into a Rugby World Cup is that we need to build some depth and some depth in key positions so that’s what this tour will be about.”
1. Logovi’i MULIPOLA, Newcastle Falcons (UK)
2. Jordan LAY, Bristol (UK)
3. James LAY, Bay of Plenty (NZ)
4. Donald BRIGHOUSE, Canterbury Crusaders (NZ)
5. Hisa SASAGI, Otago (NZ)
6. Paul ALO-EMILE, Stade Francaise (FRANCE)
7. Motu MATUU, London Irish (UK)
8. Raymond NIUIA, North Harbour (NZ)
9. Maatulimanu LEIATAUA, USAP Perpignan (FRANCE)
10. Benjamin NEE-NEE, North Harbour (NZ)
11. Joshua TYRELL, Doncaster (UK)
12. Brandon NANSEN, Newport Dragons (UK)
13. Teofilo PAULO, London Irish (UK)
14. Ofisa TREVIRANUS, London Irish (UK)
15. Faifili LEVAVE, Auckland (NZ)
16. Piula FAASALELE, Toulouse (FRANCE)
17. Jack LAM, Bristol Rugby Club (UK)
18. TJ IOANE, London Irish (UK)
19. Melani MATAVAO, Otago Mitre10 (NZ)
20. Dwayne POLATAIVAO, Northcote (NZ)
21. Pelefofoga COWLEY, Auckland (NZ)
22. Tusi PISI, Bristol Rugby Club (UK)
23. D’angelo LEUILA, Papatoetoe (NZ)
24. Stacey ILI, Hawkes Bay (NZ)
25. Reynold LEE LO, Cardiff Blues (WALES)
26. Henry TAEFU, Western Force (Australia)
27. Alapati LEIUA, Bristol Rugby Club (UK)
28. Ed FIDOW, Aix Marseille (France)
29. Tim Nanai WILLIAMS, Clermont Auvergne (France)
30. Ah See TUALA, Northampton (UK)
31. JJ TAULAGI, Hawkes Bay (NZ)
1. Steve Jackson, Head Coach
2. Alistair Rogers, T/A
3. Chris Latham, T/A
4. Ben Afeaki, T/A
5. John Ashley Jones, S&C 1
6. Luke Stephenson, S&C 2
7. Michael Quigley, Video Analyst
8. Olivia Withers, Physiotherapist
9. Brett Davison, HP Physiotheerapist
10. Vaaelua Aloi Alesana, Team Manager
11. Zane Hilton, GM HPU Samoa Rugby Union.
SOURCE: TALAMUA MEDIA/PACNEWS
Pacific Islands News Association
Who & What is PINA?
International News Safety Institute (INSI)
Media Helping Media