Sir Gordon Tietjens to take the reins in Samoa?

Sir Gordon Tietjens to take the reins in Samoa?

Sir Gordon Tietjens is set to confirm he will lead Samoa's sevens programme, a coup for the Pacific Island nation after the hugely successful coach parted ways with New Zealand Rugby following the Olympics.

The Herald understands that Tietjens, who stood down last month after the New Zealand mens' team came fifth at the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, is seen as the man to take the sevens game in Samoa to a new level and the benefits will be expected to flow to 15s.

Samoa rugby officials believe Tietjens, who led New Zealand to 12 world series titles and four Commonwealth Games gold medals, has the ability to get the best out of the players and coaches in Samoa, as well as initiate a world-class development programme. Samoa finished ninth at the last world series and didn't qualify for the Olympics.

Despite strong interest from the Kenya sevens programme, the 60-year-old is in Apia inspecting facilities and meeting with staff. An official announcement is expected tomorrow (Fri).

What he will find at the Samoa Rugby Union's high performance centre in Tuana'imato, a 15-minute drive from Apia, are modest facilities but no shortage of enthusiasm and talent. The players work out in a modest breeze block gym, with plenty of ventilation due to the year-round humidity, next to two playing fields.

His is likely to enjoy the centralised set-up after the challenges he faced in New Zealand keeping track of players around the country. In an interview with the Bay of Plenty Times last month, Tietjens said: "That is definitely the key to the future. It is something that I have been a little disappointed about that we have not moved as quick as some of those nations.

"In Australia if you make the sevens team you live in Sydney, in South Africa you live in Stellenbosch and in Kenya it is Nairobi. It just goes on and on.

"There must be some advantages with that.

"In New Zealand we don't do that. We are scattered all around the country. The demands placed on fitness trainers, physios and skills coaches is greater, with more pressure on them because we are always catching up.

"We are not collectively there as a team and I think it works against us. The only time we get together as a team is at the assemblies prior to the tournaments and that is not enough."

New Zealand Rugby have yet to announce who will take over from Tietjens at the helm of the national team.