It has been a long time coming for Coach Alama Ieremia, but the wait is finally over. The wider squad has arrived and management has been brought together in what is a very exciting time for Manu Samoa and the Samoan Rugby Union.
Darryl Gibson, Head Coach of the Waratahs Super rugby team and a long time friend of Ieremia was asked to join management earlier in the year. He jumped at the opportunity to come on board and has added a high level of technical expertise to the coaching group. Another newcomer to the Manu coaching staff is current Hurricanes forwards coach Richard Watt. Richard has coached together with Ieremia in Wellington coming through the age grades and then together at the Hurricanes from 2011 – 2014. The wealth of experience and knowledge that Ieremia, Gibson and Watt bring to the table is understated.
In a recent interview coach Ieremia explains the processes of selecting his coaching staff.
“I had a vision for Manu Samoa rugby moving forward. Part of that vision is to create a new era for the Manu Samoa team through players and expertise coaching. The key components of bringing that vision alive were to bring the best coaches into the fold.”
Ieremia and Gibson played together for the All Blacks in 1999. They also played against each other at the Hurricanes and Crusaders in Super Rugby as well as Wellington and Canterbury during the NPC seasons from 1993-2000. Ieremia’s last NPC game for Wellington was against Canterbury, captained by Darryl Gibson.
“I’ll always remember that game. To take the Air NZ Cup from Gibbo was a bitter sweet moment in my career. Watty missed selection the week before the final in 2000 and sent a motivational letter that was read to the team before kick-off. I have no doubt it made a difference. It’s great for the three of us to be reunited 16 years later. I’m humbled by the fact that Watty and Gibbo decided to come and help set foundations for the future of Manu Samoa.”
Former Manu Samoa player, now technical assistant Kane Thompson and Set Piece coach Grant Henson have also been added to the coaching line up. This will be Thompson’s first time in the coaching arena, his experience playing along-side many of the players will no doubt benefit the team. Grant Henson is a centurion for Counties Manukau and brings to the team a wealth of knowledge at the set piece.
When asked what he believes this group of coaches will bring to the future of Samoan Rugby, Ieremia stated.
“With such steep history and tradition of Manu Samoa we all understand the non negotiables around representing the jersey. Our role is to coach and enhance the Manu Samoa jersey. Also its important to leave the Manu Samoa team in a successful position at the conclusion of our tenor. My personal goal is to ensure that the team plays to its potential. We have enough challenges as it is, those challenges can become opportunities if we work hard, take control of what we can and make it work for us. Our identity through that process will hopefully be obvious through our play and actions.”
Alama Ieremia – Head Coach
Darryl Gibson – Technical Advisor
Richard Watt – Forwards Coach
Grant Henson – Set Piece Coach
Kane Thompson – Technical Advisor
David Edgar – Strenth and Conditioning Coach
Technical Advisor Darryl Gibson is currently Head Coach at the NSW Warratahs. This is the first time that a head coach of a Super Rugby team has been named amongst the Manu Samoa coaching staff.
Richard Watt is currently an assistant coach at the Hurricanes. He is renowned for his technical skill at the line out.
Grant Henson works as the set piece coach at Counties Manukau and was one of very few players to represent Counties in over 100 games of NPC.
Ex Manu Samoa representative Kane Thompson comes into the coaching arena as technical advisor.
Samoa Coach: Alama Ieremia
Samoa Cptn: David Lemi
Samoa VCptn: Faatiga Lemalu
Georgia Coach: Milton Haig
Georgia Captain: Shalva Sutiashvili