Samoa wary of Cheetahs

SAMOA Sevens rugby team coach says he is wary of the underdog threat posed by the Zimbabwe Sevens rugby team and believes their IRB Rugby World Cup Sevens opener in Russia, Moscow, tomorrow will be anything but easy.

Report by Daniel Nhakaniso

The Cheetahs, as the national Sevens rugby team is affectionately known, tackle the Samoans in their opening Pool C encounter at the Luzhniki Stadium tomorrow ahead of other pool encounters against the Philippines and Kenya on Saturday.

While the Samoans are clear favourites to top Pool C and qualify for the Cup quarter-finals, they are still taking a cautious approach and believe the Cheetahs are capable of causing an upset.

“Zimbabwe will be hard to beat, they always come out well. We don’t know much about the Philippines’ but I’m sure they’ll put up a good fight with Al Caravelli as their coach and Kenya’s been one of the real dark horses of the past season,” Samoa coach Stephen Betham, told the IRB Rugby World Cup Sevens’ official website yesterday.

“It’s a one-off tournament; every game is a Test match.”

Like his opposite number, Gilbert Nyamutsamba, Betham, who recently took over as the Samoa coach has opted for experience over youth.

“We have a few older heads back and that is due to the short period of time I have had with the team. So I’ve opted for a few old heads to come back, like Uale Mai. They are players who I’ve coached in the past and that makes it easier because they know the game plan, the systems and patterns and I think with such a short period of time that’s what we need.”

Last week, Nyamutsamba named an experienced side with six survivors from the team that took part in the last edition of the World Cup in Dubai four years ago.

Cheetahs captain Jacques Leitao and his deputy Daniel Hondo, prolific wing Wesley Mbanje, Gardner Nechironga, playmaker Tangai Nemadire and Fortune Chipendu, were all part of  the Cheetahs squad that won the Bowl title in Dubai.

In the last Rugby World Cup Sevens in 2009 Samoa defeated England in the quarter-finals, but lost to eventual champions Wales in the semi-finals.

Zimbabwe, who will be making their fourth appearance at the Sevens World Cup, achieved their best result in the last edition of the tournament after winning the Bowl title after securing a hard fought 17-14 win over Ireland.

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