New Portugal boss confirms Samuel Marques’ return for Springboks tour


Simon Mannix had great success as Portugal's new coach before making a proper start in the role by luring Samuel Marques out of Test retirement.

Mannix previously worked with the clutch player at the 2023 Rugby World Cup at Os Lobos having coached the goal-kicking half-half between 2014 and 2016 while they were together at Séction Paloise.

It was a successful partnership with Pau winning the ProD2 that first season and Mannix remaining an admirer of the player who produced two of the most iconic moments in Portuguese rugby history.

Marquez, who was the beating heart of Béziers' season in Pro D2, scored the kick that equalized the USA in qualifying and sent Portugal to their first Rugby World Cup in 16 years and then came up with another priceless conversion as Os Lobos beat Fiji in the same tournament .

No one could bemoan the 35-year-old's decision to retire so high after Portugal's epic maiden Rugby World Cup win in Toulouse, but a change in head coach and the prospect of playing for the Springboks in July has led to a -turn.

This is the level of respect between the two. Rugby Pass Marquez is understood to have actively brought up Mannix's name in the interview process.

“I coached Sam early on at Pau, when he was absolutely energetic on and off the field,” said All Black Mannix, who once played an international cap.

“Like a lot of players who went through that period, he appreciated the rugby I wanted to play, so there was a mutual respect.

“He had a lot of energy and still has an incredible amount of energy; he's a very fit athlete and plays with great confidence and real precision in what he does.

“When he's on the field you feel like Bézier is going to win. I think he was so good that most people in France who follow rugby would say this is the guy who had the biggest impact on any team.

“Since he came back after the World Cup, they have won a lot and are on a great run, although maybe they are struggling a bit physically now we are getting towards the end of the season and it is time to push.

Mannix added: “I think it will be great to watch him perform in the qualifiers and try to get his team into the top 14.”

“He plays top-level Top 14 rugby. If Sam was playing for Toulouse, we would be raving about him. I'm sure,

“He has easily shown that he has earned his place at international level, and the way he is leading this team is very impressive.

“I am delighted that Sam will be playing again and will be down (to South Africa) in the summer, which will be the initial motivation for me to get to know all the players and the squad and start rebuilding for next Rugby Europe season.” championship.”

While the Marques club was competing at the right end of the Pro D2 table, Mannix Biarritz were embroiled in a relegation battle, a battle that reached the final stages of the season.

Ultimately, Biarritz had to rely on the decline of those below them to retain their status in France's second tier, but there is no doubting the positive impact the former All Blacks side Mannix has made at the Parc des Sports d'Aguilera.

With off-field uncertainty over a change of ownership looming over the club, Biarritz was more of a threat than the Basques when he took charge in December. But Mannix rallied the team together and got them over the line…just that.

“We had many opportunities to make the season safe for a while, and that's the really disappointing thing for me, because we didn't put things in perspective very early on. But over time, the club has become safe and hopefully it can start a new positive chapter.

“Given what I inherited and given what I've been through, the state of the group and where they're all at mentally, I'm really happy. I really enjoyed the experience but it was very difficult.

“They (Biarritz) described him in the French press as being like a beaten dog that was cowering in the corner, needing a lot of love and petting so the players could enjoy what they were doing.

“I had never seen an environment like this, and it was very difficult to go into it on your own. But it was one of the most enjoyable experiences as a coach; it was a great human experience.”





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