Samoa have suffered a massive setback ahead of the Rugby World Cup which begins in a little over eight months time with one of their key personnel walking away.
High-Performance General Manager Zane Hilton has resigned and the former Melbourne Rebels assistant coach’s resignation is effective immediately.
Hilton joined Samoa in May 2018 and has aided the side’s journey during the World Cup qualification process.
Samoa certainly didn’t have a straight-forward route to the tournament, having to qualify via a playoff. They beat Germany 108-43 on aggregate in their two-legged contest.
Samoa are in Pool A and begin their World Cup campaign on September 24th against Russia in Kumagaya City.
Samoa, who were World Cup quarter-finalists in 1991 and 1995, will also face Ireland, Scotland and Japan in Pool A.
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The 38-year-old has not explained why he’s decided to walk away, saying: “While I know there will be disappointments, I want to thank SRU and Manu Samoa in particular, whom I’ve had the honour of working with over the last 12 months.
“I wish them all the best for the upcoming World Cup,”
In a statement, SRU CHief Executive Faleomavaega Vincent Fepulea’i revealed that Samoa and World Rugby is working in close partnership and are now in the process of reviewing the management needs of the programme and the World Cup campaign.
Last month Manu Samoa coach Steve Jackson said he wanted to use the HSBC World Seven Series to allow players to switch countries in time to qualify for the World Cup.
Players wanting to follow this route must compete in five tournaments on the current Sevens Series, which doubles as an Olympic qualifier, provided they have a passport for the second country and have completed a minimum three year stand-down period.
Jackson told Radio New Zealand “It’s always an avenue. I think Tim Nanai-Williams is probably one of the only people I know that has done that through that avenue, and it’s a difficult one because if you’re talking to guys in Europe they’ve got to be released.
“We’ve had some guys put their hands up and say that they’d be interested but we’ve got to be very, very careful around eligibility rules and make sure that we are absolutely clear who’s available (and) what we need to do to make sure that they can get on the field for us at the Rugby World Cup if we are keen on having them in our group.”
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