Pool A - Samoa
If ferocious tackling, passion and commitment won world cups, Manu Samoa (the Samoan Warriors) would have won it by now. Sadly, despite reaching the quarter finals in 1991 and 1995, they have struggled to perform in the professional era due to financial difficulties, locality and player depth. Unfortuantely while the leading sport in Samoa most talented rugby players depart their shores for more lucurative pastures, especially New Zealand where the likes of Michael Jones, Bryan Willimas, Pat Lam, and Frank Bunce to name but a few, have preferred to don the national jersey of their adopted countries. Four years ago Samoa got knocked out at the pool stages following defeat at the hands of South Africa and England, despite pushing the eventual champions all the way in what many deemed the match of the tournament.
They are more optimistic coming into this world cup, buoyed by improving infrastructure back home coupled with many young, gifted players making their mark on the world's top leagues.
Coach: Michael Niko Jones (NZ)
Captain: Semi Sititi
IRB Ranking: 10
Appearances: 1991, 1995, 1999, 2003
Odds to win: 500/1
Number of clubs: N/A
Number of Registered players: 21,995
Matches MT W D L
16 8 0 8
Points For Against
Scores Tr Con Pen DG
53 36 31 1
The most famous tackle in rugby folklore is Lima's monstrous hit on South African Derik Hoegaard in the 1999 RWC which earned him the nickname ‘The Chiropractor'. The 35 year old will play in a record fifth world cup this year, and his trademark aggression has not lessened with age. Sadly for Munster fans, injury prevented him from donning the red jersey, but if he manages to stay injury free expect him to make his mark on this world cup.
The Leicester Tigers' powerhouse winger is one of seven rugby playing brothers and, at 6'3” and almost 19 stone has been dubbed ‘the new Jonah Lomu'. Despite starting the season outside the regular Tigers' squad, he proved to be the scourge of premiership team defences, scoring 11 tries from only 16 starts, and was man of the match in the Tigers' 44-16 Premiership final demolition of Gloucester.
The winger currently plays for Glasgow Warriors in the Magners League. Known for his speed and try scoring abilities, he was a star basketball player in New Zealand where he was born, until he took up rugby after college. He made his rugby debut playing for Wellington in 1999, then made it onto the Samoan team in 2002, playing on the wing during the 2003 World Cup.
Rugby in Samoa
Like all the Pacific Island rugby nations Samoa's close proximity to New Zealand is a mixed blessing. Players with enough talent can look forward to a lucrative contract with a New Zealand-based super 14 team. However, the more ambitious players are tempted over to the green fields of New Zealand rugby at a young age with eyes on an All Blacks test career. Some succeed, such as Jerry Collins and Mils Muliaina, but many fail to realise their ambitions and, having committed themselves to the All Blacks, canít return to play for their homeland due to IRB eligibility rules