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Matavao & 3 replacements call up for final HSBC Sevens in London

Staff Reporters

SAMOA – 16 MAY 2023: Sevens playmaker, Melani Matavao, who captained the Manuma Samoa to second place in this month’s Pacific Challenge has been hastily recalled into an injury ravaged Manu Samoas sevens team following last weekends’ HSBC Sevens Toulouse leg.

The Manu Samoa 7s has been hit by injury as it heads into the final leg of the 2022/23 HSBC series in London this weekend.

Matavao departed Apia last weekend along with forward Fuli Faafouina bound for London. Also called up is Marist Auckland Pisi Leilua following a strong performance in the Marist Pago 7s and Samoan French based winger Elijah Niko has also joined the team to provide cover in the backs.

A squad of 14 players travelled for a one week preparation camp in Dubai prior to the Toulouse 7s without Owen Niue and Tuna Tuitama, who were not selected due to ill-discipline.

Unfortunately, two days before flying out to the Toulouse tournament, injuries hit Steve Rimoni (knee) and BJ Lima (dislocated elbow) who have returned to see specialists in New Zealand and were replaced by Taleta Tupuola (France).

Manu Samoa Sevens management said the Toulouse 7s was the teams’ hardest tournament yet, with players incurring injuries and Taunuu Niulevaea was handed a 3 match ban due to a high tackle in our first pool game against Ireland.

Paul Scanlan sustained a serious shoulder injury during the second pool game against Japan and was ruled out for 8 weeks. Levi Milford (knee injury) and Faamaoni Suetena (concussion) have also been ruled out of London.

Minor hip injury to Va’a Maliko and Neueli Leitufia (calf) as well as Taunuu Niulevaea (quad) all sustained during the Toulouse continued playing and will still be available for London.

The Teams Coaching and Management staff have acknowledged the country’s prayers and fans support worldwide.

The team is pushing for an automatic qualification for the Olympics 2024 but this goal has been made difficult after slipping back from one to nine points behind Australia with the weekends’ results in Toulouse due to injuries. Manu Samoa is still placed sixth with 116 points and South Africa is on seventh place with 116 points as well.