Preview: Samoa vs New Zealand

Jul 7 • General News, International • 1457 Views • Comments Off on Preview: Samoa vs New Zealand

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Quite possibly the smallest crowd to ever watch an All Blacks Test match will be at Apia Park in Samoa on Wednesday, but the impact of the game could be as significant as anything else the New Zealand side has achieved.
Talk of between 8000-10,000 people at the ground, watching from every possible vantage point, belies the fact that the game will be seen from large screens set up nearby the ground, on television sets throughout the islands and in coverage transmitted around the world.

This may be an All Blacks side without a core of Highlanders and Hurricanes team members, but when the result is looked at in the future that won’t matter.

By playing host to the world champions, Samoa are ready to show they deserve better from the rugby world, not only New Zealand, but other countries as well.

The game will be the sixth between the sides, the first being played at Eden Park in 1993 when New Zealand won 35-13. The last was at Yarrow Stadium in New Plymouth in 2008 when the All Blacks won 101-14.

Much has been heard of the high regard in which the All Blacks are held in Samoa but the visit is also a sign of respect from New Zealand for what Samoa has done for the game here.

Modern demands make such contact difficult to arrange but the spirit in which Samoa has embraced this first Test on their home soil against the All Blacks should do much to ensure that not only are future Tests possible but also that Samoa is sign as a viable entity for other top tier nations.

The game itself is the start of New Zealand’s build-up for the Rugby World Cup and there is plenty for the 23 players named to aim for in the game, let alone the competitiveness that should make the contest memorable.

Prop Tony Woodcock was unable to finish the season with the Blues due to injury but has the chance to work through this game and the Rugby Championship to be fully on song for the World Cup.

Loose forward Jerome Kaino is in the same boat in his first game since suffering a finger injury while for the rest of the pack, the game provides a return to action after early exits from the Investec Super Rugby competition.

The backline is where most interest will lie for New Zealand. Halfback Andy Ellis returns after a four-year hiatus and sniffing a chance for another World Cup campaign. His liaison with Dan Carter is tried and true and will be important in the white-hot atmosphere surrounding this game.

Sonny Bill Williams struggled for impact in the latter stages of Super Rugby and his defensive effort, in partnership with centre Ryan Crotty, will be important in containing the attacking spirit of the home side.

Then there are two players returning from long injury stints in fullback Israel Dagg and wing Charles Piutau. They need not only the time, but sharp performances to take their chances to impress the selectors.

George Moala is the only new player in the starting XV and it will be interesting to see how his combative approach is utilised in the game.

On top of all that is how the All Blacks last in the heat surrounding the mid-afternoon game. Will they be able to maintain the sort of up-tempo approach that has allowed them to put distance between themselves and rivals in recent years?

There are some experienced hands in the Samoan backline who know New Zealand play well. Fullback Tim Nanai Williams is a danger, while the older hands of halfback Kahn Fotuali’i and first five-eighths Tusi Pisi will look to direct the play efficiently.

Flanker Jack Lam will be competitive in the loose while lock Kane Thompson will provide grunt in the tight exchanges.

Apart from everything else surrounding the game, it offers both sides the chance to begin their World Cup build-up with a meaningful contest.

Samoa

  • 15Photo of Tim Nanai-WilliamsTim Nanai-Williams
  • 14Photo of Alofa AlofaAlofa Alofa
  • 13Photo of Paul PerezPaul Perez
  • 12Photo of Johnny LeotaJohnny Leota
  • 11Photo of Alesana TuilagiAlesana Tuilagi
  • 10Photo of Tusi PisiTusi Pisi
  • 9Photo of Kahn Fotuali'iKahn Fotuali’i
  • 1Photo of Sakaria TaulafoSakaria Taulafo
  • 2Photo of Ole AveiOle Avei
  • 3Photo of Census JohnstonCensus Johnston
  • 4Photo of Filo PauloFilo Paulo
  • 5Photo of Kane ThompsonKane Thompson
  • 6Photo of Alafoti Fa'osilivaAlafoti Fa’osiliva
  • 7Photo of Jack LamJack Lam
  • 8Photo of Ofisa TreviranusOfisa Treviranus

SUBSTITUTES

  • 16Photo of Manu LeiatauaManu Leiataua
  • 17Photo of Viliamu AfatiaViliamu Afatia
  • 18Photo of Anthony PereniseAnthony Perenise
  • 19Photo of Joe TekoriJoe Tekori
  • 20Photo of Maurie Fa'asavaluMaurie Fa’asavalu
  • 21Photo of Pete CowleyPete Cowley
  • 22Photo of Faialaga AfamasagaFaialaga Afamasaga
  • 23Photo of Ken PisiKen Pisi
Coach
 Stephen Betham

New Zealand

  • 15Photo of Israel DaggIsrael Dagg
  • 14Photo of George MoalaGeorge Moala
  • 13Photo of Ryan CrottyRyan Crotty
  • 12Photo of Sonny Bill WilliamsSonny Bill Williams
  • 11Photo of Charles PiutauCharles Piutau
  • 10Photo of Daniel CarterDaniel Carter
  • 9Photo of Andrew EllisAndrew Ellis
  • 1Photo of Tony WoodcockTony Woodcock
  • 2Photo of Keven MealamuKeven Mealamu
  • 3Photo of Owen FranksOwen Franks
  • 4Photo of Luke RomanoLuke Romano
  • 5Photo of Sam WhitelockSam Whitelock
  • 6Photo of Jerome KainoJerome Kaino
  • 7Photo of Richie McCawRichie McCaw
  • 8Photo of Kieran ReadKieran Read

SUBSTITUTES

  • 16Photo of Hikawera ElliotHikawera Elliot
  • 17Photo of Wyatt CrockettWyatt Crockett
  • 18Photo of Nepo LaulalaNepo Laulala
  • 19Photo of Brodie RetallickBrodie Retallick
  • 20Photo of Matt ToddMatt Todd
  • 21Photo of Brad WeberBrad Weber
  • 22Photo of Colin SladeColin Slade
  • 23Photo of Charlie NgataiCharlie Ngatai
Coach
 Steve Hansen
Courtesy of The All Blacks and Opta

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