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Vailele set to defend title, and take the TMO Marist Pago 7s

Last year's champions Vailele are ready to vie for the inaugural TMO Marist Pago 7s Tournament Cup against teams from American Samoa, Tonga, Fiji and New Zealand tomorrow at the Veterans Memorial Stadium, Tafuna. [Photo: Naenae Productions]

Last year’s champions Vailele are ready to do battle to defend their championship title and win the Inaugural TMO Marist Pago 7s International Tournament Cup.

“Every team is coming to win,” said Vailele coach Fataalii Milo Moke. “Were just going to do our best whichever team comes our way.”

And with international household rugby names like DJ Forbes, Uale Mai, Lolo Lui, Alafoti Faosiliva, Paul Perez, legends Muliagatele Brian “The Chiropractor” Lima, Lilomaiava Taufusi Salesa, Papaliitele Peter Fatialofa and American Samoa’s very own son in the All Blacks plus IRB and New Zealand Player of the Year, Jerome Kaino, rugby fans in the Territory will be treated to a rumble of top level sevens rugby skills and flair.

Coach Fataalii however is quietly confident that his boys are ready to deliver the goods. And with two of the best sevens players to wear the Manu Samoa blue jersey in his team, Fataalii has good reason to feel confident. He revealed that speedster Mikaele Pesamino who was the MVP and leading try scorer when Manu Samoa won the IRB Sevens Circuit in 2010, has improved greatly from a leg injury which saw him lose his award-winning form in 2011.

“I am very pleased with the progress he has made and if he stays committed, I am sure he will regain his position in the national team.” said Coach Fataalii. “Meanwhile, he plays a vital role as a finisher in our team so watch out for him.”

The other player from Vailele who has shown his worth on the field time and again in Manu Samoa colors especially in winning balls for the team from kickoffs, is none other than the unassuming Simaika Mikaele. However, a new, younger, up-and-coming jumper Faatoina Autagavaia has taken over Mikaele’s duties and has become a force to be reckoned with.

Coach Fataalii conceded that Mikaele is a bit slower than before but his skills and the way he executes them are still in that professional level expected from someone who has been under intense pressure to win a game with no more time left on the clock, and everything depended on how that final play was executed. He needs quick support and that’s where our younger players come in.

“Simaika is a real asset for our team because he’s an experienced professional that our younger players look up to and as captain, he leads by example from the first kickoff,” said his coach.

The team is no stranger to finals having won the 2010 Apia Union Sevens tourney and the American Samoa Rugby Union Sevens tourney that year and last year.  

Fataalii who is in his fourth year as Vailele coach revealed that they have spent enough time together and their combinations should click. The former Manu Samoa scrum half who played in 1988 and 1989, and is better known by his untitled name Milovale Moke, said he is also developing as a coach, and is currently taking Level 3 coaching classes.

“I just want to thank our village for their support come rain or shine,” he acknowledged. “We’ll do our best for the tapuaiga. American Samoa, here we come!”



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