Manu Samoa's squad for the forthcoming Northern Hemisphere Tour in November this year has been named.
Head coach Steve Jackson 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 NZ 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,” Jackson said.
“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."
Jackson was also 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 added that Tusi's inclusion is 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".
Manu Samoa has 3 games scheduled for the Northern Hemisphere Tour with its first game against USA on November 10th at the Anoeta Stadium, San Sebastian-Spain.
Their second game will be against Georgia on November 17th before their final outing with the host (Spain) on November 24th.
Manu Samoa 2018 - NHT SQUAD LIST
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