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Rugby-Former NZ sevens coach Tietjens to lead Samoa

WELLINGTON, Oct 14 (Reuters) - Former New Zealand rugby sevens coach Gordon Tietjens has been appointed coach of Samoa from next year, the Samoa Rugby Union said on Friday.

The 60-year-old, who was inducted into World Rugby's Hall of Fame in 2012 for his contribution to sevens, left the New Zealand programme after the team failed to medal at the Rio Olympics.

Samoa did not qualify for Rio, having being surprisingly beaten by Spain for the final spot.

"We know that there was much competition to secure the services of such a prestigious figure in world rugby sevens," Samoa Rugby Union chairman Tuilaepa Sailele L. Malielegaoi said in a statement on Friday.

"In entrusting our beloved sevens team to ... Gordon, we know we have a coach who understands how important rugby is to our people, and he has a deep appreciation for how to get the best out of the talent we know we have."

The most successful sevens coach in history, Tietjens led New Zealand from 1994 and guided teams in more than 100 international tournaments, yielding two World Cup titles, 12 world series crowns and four Commonwealth Games gold medals.

He stepped down after Rio, where the team entered among the favourites but lost to Japan in the pool phase.

Local media had reported that Tietjens was also in negotiations with Kenya, with the African country calling, then hastily cancelling, a media conference on Thursday after the coach was spotted in Samoa.

The 2016/17 world sevens series begins in Dubai on Dec. 2 before Tietjens starts on Jan. 1. He will spend about a month with the side before the third tournament of the series in Wellington on Jan. 28-29.

"I have some commitments I need to complete before making the transition to Samoa, but ... I am hugely excited to be joining the boys in blue," Tietjens said.

"I am massively motivated to help them achieve their goal to be a consistent top performer on the world stage."

(Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by Ian Ransom)