‘Poor’ Samoa to target Bok game

Samoan coach Michael Jones have become the second World Cup mentor to suggest that they regard the Springboks as easier opponents than England.

Last week Wallaby coach John Connolly said he would rather play the Springboks in the World Cup quarter-finals than England, because South Africa are not as good as they think.

Now Jones said his team will target the Boks in their opening pool match on September 9, in an effort to beat one of the big guns and secure a play-off spot.

Jones’s remarks comes on the back of England’s poor pre-World Cup form, which included a 9-22 defeat at the hands of France in Marseille at the weekend, and also follows reports that Springbok coach Jake White had described Samoa as “really poor” in their World Cup warm-up match against Harlequins at the weekend.

Samoa, who face South Africa in their opening Pool A match at the World Cup, went down 21-22 to the London-based Harlequins outfit.

White attended the match to get an idea of what his team will face in Paris, but came away with more questions than answers.

“There’s not much you can take out of it,” White told South Africa’s Sunday Times of the Samoans’ loss to Quins.

“Samoa were really poor, they looked like a team that hasn’t played together.

“It was amazing, other than that they lost to a club side. There’s nothing to take away from the game. If they play like that against us …”

Many felt that Samoa should target their encounter with England in Nantes on September 22, especially with the defending World Cup champions struggling to regain the form that made them such a formidable force in 2003.

However, Jones see it differently and feel his team must take each game as it comes.

England have lost 23 of their 39 internationals since Jonny Wilkinson slotted an injury-time drop goal to win the World Cup in Sydney in 2003.

“If you look at their track record and most recent form, people are telling us we should be targeting the England match as must-win, but it’s not like that at all for us,” the former All Blacks loose forward told Reuters at his team’s training base.

“We have to target the South African game and try and roll them.

“Then we have to get past Tonga, who are very similar to us and can cause an upset. They play the same way and they could beat us, then we have to play England six days later.”

Jones, who was an assistant to John Boe at the World Cup in Australia in 2003, said he had learned from that experience, and like many other international coaches had spent the past four years trying to build a squad of 30 players capable of playing international rugby.

“We have had the opportunity to build a squad over the past four years and this year we have had a five-stage road map, which we have been following,” he told Reuters.

“We took a development side to South Africa and Australia, then we had the Pacific Six Nations, then our team trials, a training camp in Samoa and now our final camp here at Loughborough and play games against Harlequins [last Friday], Northampton and Sale.”


365 Digital

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