Samoa aim to follow Japan giant-killing act with one of their own

Samoa coach Steve Jackson hopes his side can follow Japan’s giant-killing act by creating another World Cup sensation against Scotland.
Samoa players in a gesture of unity before training on Sunday.Samoa players in a gesture of unity before training on Sunday.
Samoa players in a gesture of unity before training on Sunday.

The Brave Blossoms lit a fire under the Pool A qualification fight on Saturday when they stunned Ireland in Yokohama.

The hosts also made headlines around the globe four years ago when they gunned down South Africa at the 2015 tournament and Jackson believes this latest result is another major boost for the game.

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Now he wants his team to give this year’s competition another stir by killing off Gregor Townsend’s team’s bid for the quarter-finals when they face off at Kobe’s Misaki Stadium tomorrow.

He said: “I take my hat off to Japan. It was great to watch and, like any other team, we were almost cheering. It was a fantastic atmosphere and this Rugby World Cup here in Japan has been amazing.

“We watched the game yesterday and it’s fantastic, isn’t it? An upset in the Rugby World Cup. Now we will focus on Scotland and, if it goes the way we hope, it’ll be another upset there. It just goes to show that you’ve got to turn up on the day and play a game of 80 minutes.”

The Pacific Islanders will be without centre Rey Lee-Lo and hooker Motu Matu’u after both received retrospective punishments for dangerous tackles during Tuesday’s win over Russia. Scotland vice-captain Greig Laidlaw said earlier this week it was the right decision to ban the pair after insisting they were guilty of “two clear head shots – and pretty brutal ones at that”.

But Jackson says those types of comments will ensure the rest of his squad are fired up for meeting the Scots. He said: “We know that there’s been things put to the media by people in the Scottish squad around talking to the referees about tackles and all that sort of stuff.

“Thanks for doing that because that just motivates our players a lot more.

“The 23 players that are going out there will have the same mindset and the same attitude, same temperament to this group and then we’ll see what happens.”

Flanker Piula Faasalele and captain Jack Lam are available, however, after making remarkable recoveries from injury.

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Jackson, pictured right, said: “Faasalele had an extremely bad break eight weeks ago when he ruptured in his arm and he’s worked unbelievably hard to get himself back. We had a conversation and the surgeons said that ‘he’s gone’, that it’d be touch and go with him. But he told me he’d be fine and that’s all I needed.

“We’re talking about two guys with the highest pain tolerance in the world.

“To have the captain back has just lifted the team and Faasalele back playing has just lifted the guys again. He offers such experience, energy and excitement when he comes on the field. We’ve been trying to hold him back for the last four to five weeks just to make sure that he sticks to the plan.”

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