An emotional Manu Samoa coach Namulau’ulu Alama Ieremia was apologetic last night of his team’s poor performance versus Fiji. He is feeling the pressure of remaining winless in the four games Manu has faced thus far in 2017.
Saturday’s 16-38 loss to the Flying Fijians makes it four straight losses this year against the All Blacks, Wales, Tonga and now Fiji. The year 2016 was not much better with only two wins, a draw and three more losses.
Namulau’ulu’s desire to win today could not be mistaken at the post match debrief with the media.
“From the bottom of my heart I just wanted to win for the country. The country is hurting and the players are hurting from the fact we haven’t had a win.”
Namulau’ulu said a win was very important to him but it was not to be against a “very good Fijian side.”
He rues the chances his team left on the field. He pointed out that there were three chances that came and went.
“It’s disappointing not to have something to hang my hat on, like a win.”
Despite that, Namulau’ulu is positive for the future.
“This group of players will get better. I feel we are heading in a right direction where the culture of the team is in the right hands,” he said.
When questioned about avoiding the Pool of Death now taken up by Tonga, and the possibility of a blessing in disguise for his team with the easier Pool A should they win the repechage against a European side – either Russia or Georgia - Namulauulu would not buy into that excuse.
“Yes, Tonga will go into the Pool of Death (as a result of finishing second in Oceania). I think that’s the silver lining but right now I never prepared this team for a loss.”
“Group A is an appealing pool and easier way to get through. It is possibly a blessing in disguise but it does not feel like a blessing right now.”
Namulau’ulu said that is the furthest thing from his mind. What he wanted and needed was a win “for the country”.
He said the team will now review and reassess where it is at, and no doubt SRU will look at the teams seven losses under the leadership of the current coaching regime since Namulau’ulu took charge at the start of 2016.
He is very aware of the culture of loss under his watch. But he believes a change is just around the bend and is not far away.
That belief is based on a very good base of promising young players coming through.
“I am very proud of the efforts of the team and their development and we will get better. I want to make sure that comes through very loud and clear.”
“Thank you for all the prayers from the country, our families and supporters.”
He said there will be tough times, but “out of this we will rise again”.