Samoa aiming high in 'pool of death'

Samoa have set their sights on a quarterfinal berth at this year's Rugby World Cup, but have no illusions about the challenge ahead as they prepare to negotiate the tournament's 'pool of death'.

Every tournament has one, and in the case of this year's Rugby World Cup, it is Pool D -- with reigning world champions South Africa (currently ranked 3rd), Wales (6th), Samoa (10th), Fiji (15th) and Namibia (20th) -- that has gained the moniker.

Despite this, Samoa's forwards coach Tom Coventry told journalists in Rotorua today his team has high expectations for the tournament, particularly after their stunning 32-23 victory over Australia in Sydney two months ago.

"You have to be realistic about your opportunities and where you sit in the pecking order, but certainly the match against the Wallabies has given us a lot of confidence.

"We'd like to make the quarterfinals. The ultimate goal is winning the World Cup. Whether that's a bridge too far, I don't know. We'll find out in the pool games."

Samoa open their campaign against Namibia in Rotorua on Wednesday and Coventry said it would be important for the team to put in a strong first-up performance.

"Anybody can get up on their day and cause an upset, so we're very wary of Namibia tomorrow and conscious of not getting too far ahead of ourselves."

Coventry said Samoa were likely to employ a running brand of rugby and would look to involve giant wing Alesana Tuilagi, who was so impressive in the win over Australia in July.

With the weather expected to clear in Rotorua after three days of unsettled conditions, the stage should be set for an entertaining afternoon.

"We've got a few other things up our sleeves which you will see tomorrow. One of the options is to get the ball to Alesana, but there's plenty of strike power in the rest of our team as well," said Coventry.

"Our plan is to use the width. We have a game plan that is pretty exciting and involves just about the whole XV."

It is a tactic Namibian coach Johan Diergaardt is expecting and his team will look to combat Samoa's expansive style with a game plan they didn't use in their opening match, a 49-25 loss to Fiji.

"We'll try to keep ball in hand, slow down the rucks, starve them of the ball, not kick into their hands like we did (against Fiji). We want to keep the ball away from them."

Namibian flanker Jacques Burger gave some insight into both the challenge and the mindset of his team as they prepare for the Samoa match.

"We have to play like there's nothing to lose. Our work rate has to be better than theirs. We won't outskill them or outpace them or outpower them, but we can outwork them."

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