The national women’s touch squad was named last night for next year’s World Cup and Pacific Games campaign.
Coach Geoff Hooper came over from Australia to hold four days of trials ending yesterday.
From 30 triallists a squad of 16 was selected.
Hooper was appointed in July to take the team right through the Pacific Games.
“They’ve come a long, long way since we started,” he said.
“The issue when I watched the players at nationals, and they’ve been working so hard, was their fitness levels.
“Since September they’ve been working on a programme I sent across to get their levels up.
“They’ve got talent and ability, it’s just teaching those elite level structures and techniques.”
Hooper has been a fulltime coach of elite women’s sides in Australia since 2015.
He said this team have real potential.
“It’s fun coaching Samoa, seeing where they started and what they can get to.
“They’re really engaging, they really wanna learn.
“If they actually had coaching all the time, they could be really talented.”
Hooper sends videos of drills for the women to work on, and senior members of the team take trainings.
“It’s about the skills more than anything, we’ll fix the other parts when I’m here.
“I come back again in January to do a week with the team, then in April two weeks before the World Cup in Malaysia.
“Our aim is to finish top five.” The trial group had a mix of youth and experience.
“If you can get a hold of them young enough, they’ll jump further than the more experienced players that have done it before,” Hooper said.
He said he was looking for the women that would listen and try new things, even when they didn’t work.
“Are you willing to adapt your game, that’s how you tell between a good and a really good player.”
He said the young players were developing very quickly
“The plan wasn’t just to be done after one year and leave them on their own, but to set a platform for after. “I’d like to come back for the next nationals just to compare to last year.
“The boys are pretty advanced, but the girls kinda get left alone and we have to push them along.”
Women’s Open Touch Squad
Atitoa Tau (Titans) - Debut
Elisapeta Timoteo (No Idea) - Debut
Emele Paletasala (No Idea) - Debut
Filoi Eneliko (No Idea)
Gabrielle Apelu (Titans)
Gaufa Salesa (Titans) - Debut
Lepa Faaiuaso (Titans)
Lote Lima (Glee)
Uanita Vaaga (No Idea) - Debut
Rejoice Malaitai (Meitaki) - Debut
Sabrina Reupena (Glee)
Samantha Rogers (Marist Legends) - Debut
Siniva Williams (Meitaki) -Debut
Tessa Tafua-So'o (Glee) - Debut
Vaimo’oi’a Ripley (Glee) - Debut
Vise Siaosi (Titans) - Debut
Head Coach: Geoff Hooper (From Queensland)
Manager: Alamu Selu