By Campbell Burnes
THE NEW Manu Samoa coach is said to have been named, but there is confusion from the ‘preferred candidate’ who says he has not signed a contract nor has he entered into any real discussion with the Samoan Rugby Union about the job yet.
Last Tuesday the SRU announced on its website that Australian Adrian Thompson was the new national coach, succeeding Dickie Tafua.
The only problem is that Thompson has yet to sign a contract and it seems the union has jumped the gun.
Thompson was reluctant to comment in detail on the situation but did say he believed he was the “preferred candidate”.
“I’m a bit confused… I’ve had the odd embarrassing phone call from people (who thought he was inked as the new Manu coach),” says Thompson.
He did acknowledge that time was running short to both name the coach and for that coach to prepare for four tests in 19 days during June, for the Pacific Nations Cup and a June 23 test against Scotland in Apia.
“If it’s not me, they need to get someone in quickly.”
Thompson is not widely known in rugby circles, but works with the High Performance Unit of the Australian Rugby Union. He coached Australia A in 2002-03.
There were apparently 33 applicants for the post, among them the Samoan Under 20s coaching duo of John Schuster and Peter Fatialofa, not to mention former Hawke’s Bay coach Peter Russell, who continues to be unwanted.
Current Samoan Sevens coach Stephen Betham has been named assistant coach.
A Samoan rugby insider says that Thompson is definitely the head coach but that they are just finalising his contract.
That also appears to be the case with new SRU chief executive Fred Amoa, a lawyer by profession, who has yet to start his new position. There is a feeling that the transition from outgoing chief executive Peter Schuster to Amoa has led to the confusion and lack of certainty.
The independent review into Manu Samoa’s RWC campaign, prompted by a damning report by skipper Mahonri Schwalger towards some management and administration, has yet to be made public.
Meanwhile, Tonga is also on the lookout for a new coach for its PNC programme. Isitolo Maka, who guided the Ikale Tahi in a stirring RWC campaign, is back living in Auckland and has not renewed his head coach contract, but will assist in a talent-spotting capacity for both the senior national side and the Tongan Under 20s.« Back to Articles
With the series level, expect both teams to put it all on the line as they seek to win the deciding test in Sydney on Saturday night.