September 10, 2019 / 5:33 AM / 9 days ago

Rugby-World Cup-Samoa

(Reuters) - Factbox on the Samoa squad for the Rugby World Cup in Japan, where they will compete in Pool A:

SAMOA

World ranking: 16

Samoa were trailblazers for Pacific island rugby when they made the quarter-finals at the 1991 and 1995 tournaments but have fallen on harder times since.

Their physical game will always leave opponents nursing bruises but getting out of a pool also containing Ireland, Japan and Scotland looks like a tall order.

This year, New Zealander Steve Jackson has overseen one win over Tonga and losses to the United States and Fiji at the Pacific Nations Cup as well as a more expected defeat at the hands of Australia in their final warmup in Sydney.

Against the Wallabies, the Samoans showed in the second half that they can put pressure on top class opponents but they will need to do it more consistently to make a mark in Japan.

They should be able to deal with Russia in their opener and if they can build on that and spring an upset against the Scots - who they fell four points short of beating at the 2015 World Cup - they could blow Pool A wide open.

COACH

Steve Jackson (New Zealand)

A former New Zealand Maori representative, Jackson was head coach at provincial side North Harbour and an assistant at the Auckand Blues before beating out more than 40 other candidates to land the Samoa job last year.

KEY PLAYER

Tusi Pisi

While the Samoa side will boast a host of hard-running, hard tackling players in both the pack and backline, their success or otherwise in Japan could come down to the kicking skills of 37-year-old flyhalf Pisi.

Pisi will not be expected to play the full 80 minutes at his third World Cup but his experience of test rugby, and of Japan after a season at the Toyota club, should be valuable to the team.

Most crucially, though, Samoa’s physical game will earn them plenty of penalties and the ability of Pisi to make them count could be vital to their chances of getting out of the pool.

Captain: Jack Lam

Squad:

Forwards - Afaesetiti Amosa, TJ Ioane, Jack Lam, Piula Fa’asalele, Josh Tyrell, Chris Vui, Teofilo Paulo, Kane Leaupepe, Senio Toleafoa, Michael Alaalatoa, Paul Alo-Emile, James Lay, Jordan Lay, Logovi’i Mulipola, Motu Matu’u, Ray Niuia, Seilala Lam

Backs - Ed Fidow, Tim Nanai-Williams, Ahsee Tuala, Belgium Tuatagaloa, Henry Taefu, Alapati Leiua, Reynold Lee-Lo, Kieron Fonotia, AJ Atatimu, Tusi Pisi, Ulupano Seuteni, Dwayne Polotaivao, Melani Matavao, Scott Malolua

WORLD CUP RECORD

W - 12, L - 16, D - 0

Tournaments: 7

Last World Cup: Pool stage (2015)

Best finish: Quarter-finals (1991, 1995)

Compiled by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru and Nick Mulvenney; editing by Sudipto Ganguly

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