Wellington Sevens draw pits Gordon Tietjens' Samoa against former side New Zealand

Sir Gordon Tietjens will take charge of Samoa for the first time at the Wellington Sevens, and against New Zealand.

When New Zealand kick off their Wellington Sevens campaign on January 28, a familiar face will be plotting their downfall from the opposition bench.

Gordon Tietjens, New Zealand's sevens coach of 23 years, takes over as head coach of the Samoan sevens programme from January 1.

His first mission on the rugby field will be a 1.41pm Pool C match against his former side at Wellington's Westpac Stadium.

Standing on the other side of halfway will be two of Tietjens' former players in Tomasi Cama and Scott Waldrom. For 14 minutes they will be anything but friends.

There will also be a point to prove for Tietjens, who had been prevented from taking up his Samoan coaching job until January by New Zealand Rugby.

"I am still on contract to New Zealand Rugby and it runs through December, up to January. I guess you could say I am on gardening leave. I got a letter telling me about my contractual obligations," Tietjens told NZME in October.

"I did find it a bit hurtful, to be told I couldn't go to Samoa to coach and that I would effectively miss the first two tournaments - I thought maybe 22 years would count for something."Tietjens was also unhappy about the support he was given in the lead-up to the Rio Olympics, telling Radio Live: "Seventy per cent of the players I had asked about came back as a yes but, within two or three weeks, a lot of those decisions were turned around and became a no".

The reason why those decisions changed may have been due to other parties, Tietjens said.

All that adds to what may be an intense opening game of the Wellington Sevens, where Tietjens will hope to prove his coaching ability with a strong Samoan performance.

Nothing would please the veteran coach more than his Samoan side getting the better of his former team.

The United States and France round out the pool with New Zealand and Samoa.

England lead Pool A, alongside Kenya, Argentina and Papua New Guinea, while South Africa face a difficult Pool B including Fiji, Australia and Japan. Scotland, Wales, Russia and Canada make up Pool D.

New Zealand finished third at the Cape Town Sevens, winning their bronze medal match against Scotland. It came after an "embarrassing" seventh place finish in Dubai, in the words of Coach Scott Waldrom.

Samoa only claimed one point in Dubai, tied for 15th for the week, before finishing 10th in Cape Town. 

New Zealand are fifth in the World Series after two rounds on 27 points, already 14 behind leaders South Africa.

Photo: Photosport