30 May 2017

Sport: Manu Samoa coach says 2017 is all about results

1:41 pm on 30 May 2017

Manu Samoa rugby coach Alama Ieremia says the time for development is over and he's selected a squad to win test matches.

Eight new caps have been picked in the 35-man squad for upcoming internationals against the All Blacks, Wales, Tonga and Fiji, including Ospreys midfielder Kieron Fonotia, Queensland Reds centre Henry Taefu and Samoa sevens star Tila Mealoi.

Tim Nanai-Williams playing for Samoa at the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

Tim Nanai-Williams playing for Samoa at the 2015 Rugby World Cup. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

But Ieremia said there's also a wealth of experience, with the return of 14 players who did not feature on November's end of season tour, such as first five Tusi Pisi, flanker Faifili Levave and utility back Tim Nanai Williams.

"There's been a bit of a turnover of new players last year but as I mentioned to the squad last year was development," he said.

"This year we really need to get the performance right because we needed to pick the players that were playing well.

"And you will see there's a lot of those players, even as late as the weekend gone, they're still playing rugby and they're playing some good rugby up north and across the Tasman so it's important that I factored that in selection."

Chris Vui wins a lineout on test debut for Manu Samoa against France.

Bristol's Chris Vui wins a lineout against France last November. Photo: AFP

Manu Samoa kick off their 2017 schedule in less than three weeks against the All Blacks at Eden Park, as part of the "Pasifika Challenge" double-header that also features Tonga against Wales.

Alama Ieremia said it was an exciting opportunity and they've already seen quite a bit of support for the team from Auckland's Samoan population.

"I think that's really important for us is that we build towards the qualification games, which is a couple of test matches down the line, but when you play the All Blacks you have to play your best players," he said.

"And when you've got key qualification test matches on the line you need to build some momentum so we will be approaching that All Blacks game with total preparation and making sure that we have our best players available.

"So it's certainly a very key test for us and also we're playing in Eden Park There's a lot of Samoan supporters there and the Pasifika Challenge adds another dimension to it all."

Manu Samoa head coach Namulauulu Alama Ieremia.

Manu Samoa head coach Namulauulu Alama Ieremia. Photo: Renee McKay/SRU

The Manu will then host Wales at Apia Park before two Rugby World Cup qualifying matches against Pacific rivals Tonga and Fiji.