Samoa skipper Williams confident of strong showing

ONE of just three players to keep his place for tomorrow’s Test match in Durban, Samoa skipper Paul Williams has warned Scotland to expect a very different challenge to the one put up by the South Sea islanders against the Lions of Johannesburg last Saturday.

After that freakish 74-14 defeat, Williams, 30, who plays for Stade Francais while his brother Gavin is at Clermont Auvergne, has been joined by more overseas stars.

The tryscorers gaianst the Lions, Alesana Tuilagi, the Leicester wing, and back row Ofisa Treviranus are the others retained but while the team is far stronger it is still much-changed to that which claimed victory over Wales and narrowly lost in France.

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Coach Stephen Betham has made nine changes to the side that went down 22-14 to the French in their last Test, retaining only stand-off Tusiata Pisi, centre Jonny Leota, No 8 Taiasina Tuifua, lock Treviranus, Teofilo Paulo and Toulouse tighthead prop Census Johnston.

Samoa have never beaten Scotland, losing seven of their eight meetings and drawing 15-15 at Murrayfield in 1995. But after losing 19-16 and 17-16 in the last two, Williams, the son of All Black Bryan Williams, believes this Test will again go down to the wire. He said: “We have had some really close games, so we are expecting another close tussle. They will have seen a number of holes from our last turnout that they will want to exploit but we actually had only 19 players fit and three of them arrived the day before, so we were up against it. “We see this as a big opportunity to try to right the disappointment of last year’s loss [to Scotland] at home. Right down to the dying moments we thought we might have had it but, to their credit, they kept working and were there at the end.”

Samoa and Scotland will meet in the 2015 World Cup but the Samoan skipper does not believe this game will matter to that outcome.

“We are introducing a number of new players and I am not so sure how relevant one win here would be to affecting the psychology of the World Cup. But certainly as far as our build up and the development of the players in our squad goes, we would like to be successful.

“We are ranked seventh in the world and it’s a great achievement but we look at the close losses as well and we are very disappointed with them. We would love to have rolled France in Paris after that Wales game. Now we are looking forward to these three challenges ahead. Certainly we want to win them.”

Samoa: James So’oialo, Alapati Leiua, Paul Williams (c), Jonny Leota, Alesana Tuilagi, Tusiata Pisi, Jeremy Sua, Taiasina Tuifua, Jack Lam, Ofisa Treviranus, Daniel Leo, Teofilo Paulo, Census Johnston, Wayne Ole Avei, Logovii Mulipola. Subs: Maatulimanu Leiataua, Sakaria Taulafo, James Johnston, Faatiga Lemalu, Junior Poluleuligaga, Brando Vaaulu, Seilala Mapusua, Alafoti Faosiliva.