Manu Samoa technical advisor Chris Latham feels “immensely encouraged” ahead of the game against Georgia in Tbilisi tomorrow morning.
Despite a heartbreaking 30-29 loss to USA on the first game of the Northern Hemisphere Tour, Latham said there’s a fantastic mood in the Manu Samoa camp.
“We have a lot of belief in this squad, and we know we let ourselves down last week with some individual decisions from players,” he said.
“Us coaches have seen the reaction in training.
“It’s just that maturity thing, making sure we learn from our mistakes.”
He said game management has been a focus in training this week.
“Knowing when to push that pass, otherwise I feel good about all that we created on attack.”
Former Wallaby fullback Latham has been the backs coach for Manu Samoa since before the Pacific Nations Cup this year.
He said the progression he’s seen since becoming involved is really good.
“I felt the previous team (under former coach Fuimaono Titimaea Tafua) played with a bit too much structure.
“The Samoan way is to have an unstructured attack that plays of instinct and feel for the game.
“The players want to play exciting rugby, my job is teaching them when to turn that on and off.”
Manu Samoa are expecting confronting, physical play from a Georgia team that like to maul.
“It’ll be about playing smart and moving the ball around them, plus getting set early on defence,” Latham said.
“We’re always confident of winning when we play our best.
“The keys to our preparation have been thinking about why we are doing things on the park, and when to do them.”
The Manu Samoa team to play Georgia features a different halfback and loose forward combination than against USA.
With limited time to experiment before the World Cup next year, Latham said the coaches have to look at the big picture while still focusing on getting individual results.
“The major nations get three years to build their teams before a World Cup, but we sort of have to do all that now.
“We feel the pressure that comes with everything around the coaching change and bad recent results, so of course we still always pick a team we think will win.
“The main thing is we need Samoa to be the stars of the World Cup, that’s our long term goal.”
Latham said good results on this tour are key to promoting Samoan rugby.
“We want to build that cult following, get the positivity back when people talk about us.”
Manu Samoa take on Georgia at 4am Samoan time on Sunday