Samoan sevens star shines at Two Blues

ON THE CHARGE: Wanderers No.8 Francis Ieremia bumps off a couple of University defenders in the Two Blues 42-7 win at No.2 Sportsground. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

WANDERERS No.8 FrancesIeremia was in London preparingto play for Samoa in the World Rugby Seven series tournament at Twickenham this time last year.

It was the25-year-old’s second tournament back from a dislocated ankle.

He had previously missed eight months after breaking his leg against France in the South African leg of the sevens series in Capetown in December 2015.

At Twickenham, Samoawere drawn alongside Australia, England and Spain. They went down to Australia (34-5) and the hosts (24-19) and beat Spain (40-7) to finish third in the pool. They were pipped29-21 by Wales in the quarter-final of the Challenge Trophy before bouncing back to beat Japan (33-7) and Russia (24-19) to finish 13th.

London was the final leg of the series and Samoancoach Gordon Tietjens suggested that Ieremia played some club rugby.

Ieremia’s partner LauraTyan is from Black Hill and her family hasa connection with Wanderers.

The pair were living in Samoa, where they met when Laura was a volunteer teacher, and decided to join her family in Australia.

“Economically it washard living in Samoa,” Ieremia said.“I decided to take a break from the sevens and come here to Newcastle. Laura’s grandfather used to be Wanderers’ dentist. The club hasbeen great.I have an opportunity to go back to the sevens programnext year, but if things go well here with Wanderers I might stay.”

Ieremia played a handful of games, mainly in second grade, in the final stages oflast season.With the benefit of a pre-season, he has been one of Wanderers stars in the opening five rounds.

He is the competition’s leading try- scorerwith six, highlighted by a hat-trick in the 42-7 win over University last round, and leads Wanderers in securingturnovers.

“He is powerful and has really good footwork,” Wanderers coach Darren Young said.“He hadn’t played much rugby when he arrived last year. He is going to get better and better. He gives us another dimension off the back of the scrum with his speed.”

Before histwo- yearstint in the Samoan sevens program, Ieremia represented Manu Samoa (15-a-side) at the 2015 Pacific NationsCup.

“Sevens wasa great experience,” he said.“We got to travel and meet other players from other countries.I also enjoy the 15-a-side game.The other forwards here have set a good platform and allow me to run the ball. I’m really enjoy Youngy’s game plan.”

Ieremia copped a head knock against University and will miss Saturday’s clash against Lake Macquarie.

“He didn’t receive a blue card but he did get a knock,” Young said.“Youcan’t be too cautious when it comes to player welfare.”