2 Jul 2016

Sport: Manu Samoa coach gives team a pass mark

10:11 am on 2 July 2016

Manu Samoa coach Namulauulu Alama Ieremia has given his players a tentative pass mark for their efforts in the June internationals.

A team featuring nine debutants drew 19-all in Apia against a Georgian team who completed an unbeaten tour of the Pacific.

Alama Ieremia

Namulauulu Alama Ieremia Photo: Photosport

The Manu also had mixed results in the Pacific Nations Cup, beaten 26-16 by Fiji in Suva before ending with an emphatic 30-10 victory at home to Tonga.

Ieremia said he had two main targets going into his first series as head coach.

"Especially for the team, a new era for Manu Samoa. (World Cup) qualification was obviously the priority - getting that ticked over - and then the second goal was also the blooding of some new players moving forward so I think we've achieved both of those but in terms of our campaign as a whole it's a start but there's a lot of work to be done so I'd give it a pass mark but just a pass mark at this stage."

Ieremia said Samoa certainly improved as the competition progressed.

"The first half in both of those games we got better as the game went on but we faded away later in games so in terms of a progression and performances I thought we did get better," he said.

"Specifically in that last week we knew our backs were against the wall and to actually get that result to top off a lot of the hard work that's gone in behind the scenes, that was very satisfying."

Samoa captain David Lemi scored the only try for the home side.

Manu Samoa captain David Lemi in action against Georgia Photo: Renee McKay/SRU

Ieremia said one of the biggest tasks for the coaching staff was introducing a more up-tempo style of play to the Manu Samoa squad.

"It does take a bit of time and obviously it's a risk and reward factor as well - if you're moving the ball you obviously have got to make better decisions and there's a lot more errors in that particular style so certainly a style that suits us in the islands and especially in June when the weather is quite hot. Possession and ball retention is really critical."

Ieremia said a number of new faces were introduced in to the national set-up and he expected up to 10 front-line players to return for the November tour, when Samoa take on France, Georgia and Canada.