With the Steinlager Sevens underway, Samania is keen to maintain the momentum and start preparations early for the regional tournament in Fiji.
He used the opening round of the tournament last week to gauge the current national squad players and gain an understanding of where players’ fitness and skill levels were.
Samania also took the opportunity to identify new talent that he may have missed over the past six months of scouting.
“The obvious thing to take from the weekend was that we have a lot of work to do with fitness,” national team manager Simon Johnston said.
“However, this is exactly where we expected to be at this time of year. That said, the next few months is vital to our preparation leading into the annual World Rugby Sevens qualifiers in November.”
The Oceania Sevens qualifiers to be held on November 10 and 11 will be significant, because apart from the usual 2018 world circuit qualifiers for the Waikato, Sydney and Hong Kong, there’s also a chance for the Cook Islands to qualify for the Rugby Sevens World Cup in San Francisco and the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast in Australia next year.
“Our ultimate target is obviously to qualify for all five of these 2018 tournaments,” Johnston said.
“We face major challenges at the qualifiers but instead of easily giving up games we play against the big four of Samoa, Australia, New Zealand and Fiji, we will instead adopt a ‘go after them’, siege mentality as we did against Australia last year which saw us just lose in the dying seconds of that game by a controversial try right on the hooter.
“We have absolute team belief we can beat anyone on our day.”
In his second year as the coach, Johnston said Samania has moved forward in driving the Sevens programme to the next level.
“We have specific aims to achieve for fitness and strength, better game management techniques and a work smarter approach by using resources available and if that fails using ingenuity to analyse and measure performances in order to improve.
“Our expectations around standards, discipline and sacrifice we expect will be placed on our core group of players who will drive from the inside, out.”
But first things first, the management needs to get a formidable team together to take on the upcoming challenges.
“We have named a larger squad this year to really open up the opportunity to be selected.
“As a member of this squad they will be required to abide by the strict protocols of reporting their testing/training programmes and videos on time if they live overseas. The local players must attend all trainings and meetings.”
The locally-based players are required to attend the opening Sevens specific training today at 5.30pm at Country Fried Chicken. For any queries, contact Samania on 78331.