KOBE, Japan (Reuters) - Samoa have accepted the decision to suspend two of their players for high tackles but do not agree with it, coach Steve Jackson said after he named a team that has been shorn of valuable experience for their clash with Scotland in Kobe on Monday.
Centre Rey Lee-lo and hooker Motu Matu’u were suspended for three games for high tackles during their opening Pool A match against Russia in Kumagaya last Tuesday.
The match against Scotland has major significance for the quarter-finals after hosts Japan upset Ireland 19-12 in Shizuoka on Saturday to take control of the pool.
“It hasn’t been that relaxing with our two boys getting off-field red cards,” Jackson said. “It’s been a bit of a disruption but it’s only motivated the squad a lot more.”
Jackson said that assistant coach Alistair Rogers had pored over the video of both incidents and struggled to ascertain what else Lee-lo or Matu’u could have done to avoid the contact.
“In both cases, our players have bent their hips and they obviously didn’t go there intending to make contact anywhere above from where the ball is,” Jackson said.
“Do we accept the sanction? Yes, we do. Do we agree with it? No, we don’t.”
Despite losing two of his more experienced players, Jackson was able to bring Jack Lam back to lead the side against the Scots after the loose forward missed the Russia game through injury.
Lam returns at number eight for Afaesetiti Amosa, who ruptured knee ligaments in a bad tackle while scoring his side’s second try in Kumagaya.
Chris Vui, who led the side against Russia, has been retained as blindside flanker but handed the captain’s armband to Lam.
Scrumhalf Melani Matavao has also come into the starting side after Dwayne Polataivao failed a head injury assessment during the game and did not recover in time to be considered for the Scotland match.
Jackson also brought in Ray Niuia to start the game at hooker to replace Matu’u, who also failed a head injury assessment during the tackle and his suspension does not start until he has been cleared to play again.
The versatile Alapati Leiua, who scored two tries against Russia on the right wing, has moved into centre to replace Lee-lo.
Winger Belgium Tuatagaloa, who chose to represent Samoa at the tournament rather than take up a new club contract in France, will make his World Cup debut in place of Leiua.
Team: 15-Tim Nanai-Williams, 14-Belgium Tuatagaloa, 13-Alapati Leiua, 12-Henry Taefu, 11-Ed Fidow, 10-Tusi Pisi, 9-Melani Matavao, 8-Jack Lam (captain), 7-TJ Ioane, 6-Chris Vui, 5-Kane Le’aupepe, 4-Teofilo Paulo, 3-Michael Alaalatoa, 2-Ray Niuia, 1-Logovii Mulipola
Replacements: 16-Seilala Lam, 17-Paul Alo-Emile, 18-Jordan Lay, 19-Piula Faasalele, 20-Josh Tyrell, 21-Pele Cowley, 22-Ulupano Seuteni, 23-Kieron Fonotia
Reporting by Greg Stutchbury in Oita; Editing by Sudipto Ganguly and Ken Ferris