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Introducing… Samoa

Introducing… Samoa

Samoa

With their spot at the 2023 Rugby World Cup safely secured, Samoa can now look forward to a fascinating clash with Italy in the Autumn Nations Series.

Samoa beat Tonga 79-28 on aggregate after two legs in Round 2 of the Oceania 1 play-offs during July 2021 to qualify for the tournament in France.

Currently ranked 11th in the men’s World Rugby Rankings, Seilala Mapusua’s side will take on Italy during the second round of the Autumn Nations Series this November, looking to build on a strong 2022 so far.

They take on an Azzurri side who have had some strong showings so far this year so with both sides on upward trajectories, this is sure to be a mouth-watering clash between two exciting teams.

Outside the Autumn Nations Series, Samoa will also take on Georgia and Romania.

Analysis  

Samoa come into the Autumn Nations Series in fine form having won the 2022 World Rugby Pacific Nations Cup in July.

They beat Australia A 31-26 in a first-round thriller and followed it up with a 34-18 win over Tonga.

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And Mapusua’s side saved their best performance until last.

After Fiji took a 17-3 lead into the break, Samoa showed their heart and determination to strike back and win their Round 3 game 23-20.

Following the victory, captain Michael Alaalatoa said that his side would have lost that game in the past.

Samoa had experienced something of a decline in the past half-decade, but recent performances would hint at a reversal in fortunes, with the Samoan pack, in particular, seemingly re-establishing itself as a genuine weapon.

So clearly, Samoa will come into the clash with Italy with plenty of confidence.

Key players 

Theo McFarland

After signing a new long-term contract with Gallagher Premiership Rugby side Saracens, Theo McFarland’s future looks bright.

He made 26 appearances during an astounding first season in England, flexing his athletic ability in the second row and back row.

The 26-year-old already has some experience on the international stage, winning his first cap against Tonga in the 2023 Rugby World Cup qualifiers.

And if his start to the season with Saracens is anything to go by, he will be crucial to Samoa’s plans for years to come.

Ray Niuia

Ray Niuia was crucial to Samoa’s triumph in the 2022 World Rugby Pacific Nations Cup.

He finished as the competition’s joint top try scorer after a hat-trick in his side’s 34-18 win over Tonga in Round 2.

The hooker plays for Moana Pasifika in Super Rugby Pacific and has also represented the Highlanders and the Blues.

And after making an impact over the summer, Niuia could cement his spot in Samoa’s starting XV for the 2023 Rugby World Cup with a strong display against Italy.

Jordan Taufua 

Lyon back-row and human wrecking ball Jordan Taufua will be one of Samoa’s shining lights against Italy.

The former three-time Super Rugby title-winning Crusaders loose forward made his Samoa debut over the summer against Tonga.

Taufua, who earned had previously been called up for New Zealand in 2018, will now look to make an impact with Samoa against Italy.

Schedule 

Samoa will take on Italy at Stadio Plebiscito in Round 2 on Saturday 5th November.

It is Samoa’s only game in the Autumn Nations Series so they will be keen to make it count against the Azzurri.

The Autumn Nations Series gets underway on 29th October when Scotland host Australia at BT Murrayfield.

5 November – Italy v Samoa, Stadio Plebiscito, Padua – KO: 1pm

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