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Samoa selectors choose squad for big year of rugby

Friday 15 May 2015 | Published in Regional

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APIA – Manu Samoa selectors have named 58 players in their wider training group and selection pool for the Manu’s 2015 campaigns which includes the Rugby World Cup.

Head Coach Stephen Betham said that in addition to the 58 named the coaching team hoped to add additional names closer to the squad selection date.

Betham said the coaching team’s visits to UK-based players had been positive with all players visited making themselves available for Samoa’s 2015 campaigns.

Manu Samoa will play a historic match against the World Champion All Blacks at Apia Park on July 8 , before heading to the United States and Canada to play in the Pacific Nations Cup.

“We had some very positive conversations with Samoan players in the United Kingdom and we have returned positive that we will be able to select a strong and experienced side from this group,” Betham said.

“Like other Pacific nations we are faced with the reality of trying to prepare for our campaigns with players who are largely now based in countries outside the Pacific, and including Japan.

“The benefit for us, is that obviously the work ethic and training programmes for these players remains a strong focus which is important when you can’t always assemble them for training camps,” he said.

Many of those players also contributed suggestions to the Manu Samoa’s preparation plans.

“We’ve taken on board feedback from those players, and we think our campaigns will be much stronger as a result.

“We have also had positive conversations with the Pacific Island Players Association who have been incredibly supportive of our Samoan players and our desire to strengthen our relationships with them,” Betham said.

The Manu Samoa squad of 38 to be considered for the All Blacks and the Pacific Nations Cup will be named about a month prior to those campaigns.

The squad of 31 to travel to the US for the Pacific Nations Cup will be named on Thursday, July 9, the day after the All Blacks Test match.

The Rugby World Cup squad will be named in early August.

Meanwhile, the Samoa Rugby Union is in full swing with its preparation for the All Blacks Test match.

Interim Rugby Union CEO, Faleomavaega Vincent Fepulea’i said while ticket sales were strong, there were still general admission tickets available.

Redevelopment of Apia Park was the biggest piece of work that was being undertaken and all efforts were being made to complete the project by the scheduled June handover of the venue.