Holders Samoa primed after beachside bootcamp

PUBLISHED : Friday, 28 March, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 28 March, 2008, 12:00am

It is said that it is harder to defend a title successfully than to win it, and no one knows this better than Samoa.

The Samoans come to Hong Kong as champions after they shocked Fiji 27-22 in last year's decider, but face an uphill battle if they are to repeat the feat this time around.

Five players from last year's successful team will be missing because of injury and commitments to their clubs in Europe, while in the IRB Sevens so far, the side have struggled.

Their best display was reaching the Wellington Sevens final last month where they were narrowly beaten 22-17 by New Zealand after a try in the dying seconds by the Kiwis.

However, they have yet to recapture the form of last season that saw them win not only in Hong Kong but in Wellington too. They lie fourth in the series standings and coach Rudolf Moors is hoping a punishing recent training camp will help his side get back to winning ways.

Before arriving in Hong Kong, Moors pushed his squad to the limit during training on Maninoa Beach, Siumu, Samoa where his players underwent intense strength training, which included carrying two 20kg sand bags above their heads while jogging a 100m set course for seven minutes. They then repeated the dose with 40kg sand bags.

This was just part of the workout the Samoan coach laid out for his men to get their minds on the job at hand.

'The team are ready for Hong Kong,' said Moors.

'I wanted to see how far they would push themselves. To win you have to push yourself to the limit. In this training that's exactly what happened.

'In a real game this will make all the difference,' he said.

'So what we did was set up a training camp that would test their strength and stamina to the full. I was impressed with the players. They all did very well.'

Moors said it also helped to strengthen his players mentally and bring them together as a team.

'We have to play as a team and to do this you must have good team morale,' he said.

'A training camp like this is great at breeding team morale, as everyone is in it together and encouraging each other.

'Team spirit is as important as fitness and I'm happy with both in the squad.'

The backbone of the Samoan team will be captain and last year's Hong Kong Sevens Player of the Tournament, Uale Mai, and Mikaele Pesamino, who scored a hat-trick in last year's decider.

Samoa legend Brian Lima will also be on hand to give advice if required and is no stranger to Hong Kong. He was one of the key players who helped them win the Hong Kong title in 1993.

Lima played for Hill and Associates Hong Kong Barbarians at the Hong Kong Tens tournament at Sports Road and has made himself available to the squad.

'He was with us during our training camp on Maninoa Beach and his presence gave everyone a lift,' Moors said. 'He told us to give it 120 per cent and play with our hearts for our country.'

With that kind of mentality, a title defence could still be on the cards.