Must-win game in 'group of death'

Sam Warburton. Photo by Reuters.
Sam Warburton. Photo by Reuters.
Wales captain Sam Warburton is confident his team carries no emotional scars from two previous loses to Samoa in rugby World Cups as they prepare for their key Pool D clash in Hamilton on Sunday.

"I don't think the players have taken any notice of what's happened in the past, said Warburton, when asked about Wales poor tournament record against Samoa, with losses to the tier two rugby nation in their two previous World Cup encounters, in 1991 and 1999.

"This squad's a lot different to what it was back then."

Sundays match is one of the most eagerly anticipated of the tournament so far, and takes on huge significance for Wales following their narrow 17-16 loss to South Africa last week.

Win and they are still in with a chance of qualifying for the quarter-finals, lose and its a likely early exit from the tournament.

Both teams are looking to emerge from the tournaments 'Pool of Death', which includes reigning world champions South Africa, Wales, Samoa, Fiji and Namibia.

Warburton said the Wales camp was expecting a physical approach from the Samoans and they would be ready for the challenge.

"We played them a couple of years ago and a lot of the boys played in that," he said. "That was a very tough rest match so we're expecting a similar thing on Sunday."

Wales won that 2009 match 17-13 in Cardiff.

The team announcements on Friday reflected the importance of this match with both coaches naming virtually unchanged sides for the game.

Wales coach Warren Gatland has retained faith in the starting side that played South Africa last week, making just one change to the reserves, bringing prop Gethin Jenkins in to replace Ryan Bevington on the bench.

Samoa coach Titimaea Tafua has made one change to the starting side that beat Namibia 49-12 in Rotorua on Wednesday, with Ofisa Treviranus replacing Taiasina Tuifua at blindside flanker.

Tuifua drops to the reserves after sustaining an injury in that game.

"(His injury) is not that bad, so that is why we just put him on the bench," Tafua told reporters in Rotorua.

Flyhalf Tusi Pisi was also named after he sustained a hamstring injruy in the Nsamibia game.

"Today he is 80 per cent, and he might be 99 per cent by tomorrow, and we still have a whole other day (before the Wales game kicks off at 1530)."

Wales are the first team to pick an unchanged side at the 2011 Rugby World Cup, though Gatland made one change to the reserves, bringing prop Gethin Jenkins in to replace Ryan Bevington on the bench.

"I think it's the first time since 2006 that Wales have named an unchanged team, said Gatland.

"It's a message of confidence in terms of the way we performed last week. We've got everyone fit and hopefully we can build on last week."

Add a Comment