The Prime Minister and the Chairman of the Samoa Rugby, Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi, has rejected criticisms of their decision to recruit Gordon Tietjens as coach of the Manu Samoa Sevens.
He has also refused to confirm or deny reports the Union is paying more than $200,000 per annum to hire the Kiwi coaching guru.
Asked about Tietjen’s salary, Tuilaepa was blunt.
“It’s enough,” he said, “about one fifth of what Kenya offered.”
Pressed to elaborate on whether it’s more than $200,000, he said: “Don’t talk about that it might hurt your feelings.” Away from the salary, Tuilaepa said fears that Tietjens will not be able to communicate with the players are silly. He said such claims undermine the ability of players to speak English.
“Once you say something like, you are undermining the intelligence of our boys,” said Tuilaepa.
“Our boys are capable of speaking English otherwise they would not have been able to win the Cup in Paris (this year) coached by a palagi. "
“That is my brief answer to tell you how stupid that kind of thinking is.”
Besides, the Chairman said Assistant Coach, Stephen Betham, could translate if its required.
He said the recruitment of Betham is good for Samoa because he is there to study the methods used by Tietjens given his extensive and successful coaching backgrounds.
“He (Tietjens) was given an offer five times more from Kenya but he chose us,” explained Tuilaepa.
“This is because he feels at home here and he has coached a lot of Samoans. The other thing is our team is one of the best teams but its performance has dropped.
“So he believes there is a lot of potential and he has the methods to easily lift it up.”
The Chairman added that rugby has become so technical. It’s no longer just about sheer strength. It’s about techniques, diet, fitness and mental toughness, he said.
As for people complaining about the appointment, Tuilaepa said it’s not an issue because it doesn’t hurt the Union.
“The only thing is they’ll get tired of is talking,” he said.