Punivalu unveiled as Manu Samoa Sevens coach
The Samoa Rugby Union has announced the appointment of Viliamu Punivalu as the new Manu Samoa Sevens head coach.
The appointment was confirmed at a special Board meeting of the SRU on 19 July 2013. Punivalu replaces Tausa Faamaoni Lalomilo in the role.
Chosen from 18 initial applicants, Punivalu has been coaching the Vaiala club in Samoa and was also head coach of the Samoan Under 20 squad which finished ninth at the recent IRB Junior World Championship in France.
At a press conference in Samoa he spoke of his vision to 'rebuild the foundations of the Samoa Sevens team'.
"I am putting together the best team for Samoa. There will be new players in the team and of course I will be keeping the old boys as well," he said.
Just three years ago, current Manu Samoa head coach Stephen Betham led the country to its first IRB Sevens World Series title, a monumental achievement for the small island nation.
Since then the country has finished fifth, fourth and fourth on the Series, and Betham recently came in as a late coaching replacement for the Rugby World Cup Sevens in Moscow but could inspire the team to no higher than 10th place.
Returning Samoa to the pinnacle of the game is a daunting prospect for Punivalu but, with the best possible knowledge of the nation's youth rugby scene, he seems well positioned to take them forward.
"Samoa has a lot of pride in its Sevens and I plan to build that again and hopefully we can reach the expectations of the country. I am going to do the job to the best of my ability." he added.
Punivalu has already identified eight new players who will join his training squad next week, while the appointment of an assistant coach / Manager is also high on his agenda.
Golden era: Samoa win the Series in 2010