WELCOME: Manu Samoa will be tough on the field and tuneful off it
BRIGHTON 16 Sept - With a squad that plays its club rugby across Europe, Japan and New Zealand and with some playing in the domestic amateur league, bringing the men of Manu Samoa together for a World Cup might seem like a challenge.
Not so, says Bristol prop Anthony Perenise. The strong Christian faith of all the players binds them together as a team.
“It’s one of our core things, our belief. All of us are very religious people, and when we get together we sing a lot, all our songs are based on God and belief.
“We’re always singing and that helps reduce tension between players, and if there is tension we’ll sing and joke around with each other, spend a bit of time together. So within the last three months that we’ve been together we all managed to hang out and get to know one another.”
Always in the mood for a tune after a good, hard training run. #LeManuPosted by Manu Samoa on Wednesday, September 16, 2015
Who has the best voice on the team? “This man right here – Sanele [Vavae Tuilagi].”
The team have attended St Mary’s Church in Brighton, and Perenise laughs at the stir they caused when a squad of 16-stone men walked through the door.
"We have prayers every afternoon, every night before dinner, that’s something that we do all the time, but Sundays is usually Sabbath day so we go to church. We went to St Mary’s in Brighton last weekend, which is quite a small church so obviously having all of us in there made it quite a lot smaller.”
“I think people look at us and think, these guys are big, probably scary, ugly, but at the end of the day we’re humble people. We always try to circle up with our opponents at the end of a match to pray.
"When we are in the circle we obviously thank the opposition but we also thank the big guy upstairs for the occasion. But that’s what we do all the time.”
Challenging stereotypes is something they will also try to do on the rugby field in their opening match against the United States on Sunday at the Brighton Community Stadium.
“People know that Polynesian teams have that flair when it comes to attacking. But we’re very tight on our defence as well. We’re trying to balance it up. Not giving anything away, but we’re focused on all aspects on the game. Doing the little things right.”