Samoa fires off Bok warning

Samoan coach and legendary All Black flank Michael Jones has fired the first verbal salvo in the lead-up to his team’s opening match of the World Cup – against South Africa in Paris on September 9.

Jones said he is under no illusions about the task in front of them, when they come up against the mighty Springboks.

However, they are confident they can knock over at least one of the big guns in their pool matches and secure themselves a spot in the play-offs.

They will also face England, in Nantes on September 22, and a potentially tricky match against fellow Pacific Island nation Tonga, with the United States the only likely easy win.

If Samoa wants to progress beyond the pool stages, they can afford only one loss.

Victory over either the Boks or English will see them repeat their giant-killing feats of making the quarter-finals in 1991 and 1995.

“I’ve always maintained that we’re not going there to make up the numbers,” Jones said if his team’s encounters with South Africa and England.

“From my perspective as coach, we have got a lot of talent in the team and those players have to put their bodies on the line for their country.

“We may not possess the resources and money top teams like England and South Africa have, but we’ve got a team of players who are ready to die for their country.”

Jones was assistant coach to John Boe during the 2003 World Cup, when Samoa nearly upset eventual champions England, leading well into the second half before a late onslaught saw them succumb 35-22.

The team also achieved a famous 16-13 win against Wales at Cardiff Arms Park in 1991 to make the quarter-finals.

Samoa has been the strongest Pacific islands team for the past four years and have proved more consistent than local rivals Fiji and Tonga.

In this year’s Pacific Nations Cup, the Samoans predictably lost to the Junior All Blacks and Australia A despite good performances, beat Fiji and Japan in low scoring games and thrashed Tonga.

“A lot of work has gone into our preparations for the World Cup,” Jones said.

“The team we’ve got is a result of years of hard work, monitoring players all over the world.”

AFP 365 Digital

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