26 Jan 2017

Sport: Tietjens says Samoa 7s will be much fitter in Wellington

2:11 pm on 26 January 2017

Sir Gordon Tietjens expects major improvements in Samoa's on field performance at the Wellington Sevens, after putting the squad through a gruelling fitness regime.

The Manu are a lowly 12th in the World Series standings after failing to reach the Cup quarter finals at the Dubai and Cape Town tournaments last month.

Samoa are hoping to be back competing with sevens big guns like Fiji this season.

Samoa have struggled in recent seasons. Photo: World Rugby

Tietjens was listed as an observer/technical advisor during those tournaments and said it gave him a clear idea where the need for improvement lied.

"They were good at times - they lost about four games at the death really and we put a lot of that down to just not being able to finish games off due to the lack of conditioning

and making errors at crucial times as well, and the workload had to be shared certainly amongst all the players.

"Of course with all the players, when you're doing that, you've got certainly a lot of those players that have totally different skill-sets to some of the lesser-known players - those tournaments were really new to some of the players as well."

Samoa sevens coach Sir Gordon Tietjens.

Samoa sevens coach Sir Gordon Tietjens. Photo: RNZI

Tietjens will assume the title of Samoa head coach for the first time this weekend at a tournament he won nine times, including the past three years, during his more than two decades in charge of the All Blacks Sevens team.

The 61-year-old's brutal fitness sessions were a hallmark of his time with New Zealand and he has wasted no time putting the Samoan squad to the test.

"For the last three weeks I've had them in Mount Maunganui, which we've been centreing, I suppose, around high performance as a real key area and around obviously having that work ethic, and getting fitter and having a real understanding [about] the importance of conditioning moving forward for all the World Series tournaments," he said.

"The shifts if I look, going back to Dubai and South Africa, they're certainly a hell of a lot fitter than what they were in those first two tournaments and even in the last two to three weeks I've seen they've certainly made massive changes to the way they operate, mainly because they're fitter.

"Even though as tough as it is - the tournament in Wellington is tough [with] the draw that we have - I'm certainly looking for some real improvements in certain areas."

Samoa plays Tietjens' former team New Zealand first up on Saturday, along with the United States and France.

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