Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Jones begins Samoa's World Cup preparations

Samoa rugby coach Michael Jones will use a five-match tour of South Africa and Australia next month to blood some young players ahead of the World Cup.

The Samoans will play against Super 14 opposition in three games in South Africa, before heading to Australia for another two games.

They open with a match against a Lions/Pumas combination in White River on January 6, followed by games against the Bulls in Polekwane on January 10 and Cheetahs in Kimberley on January 13.

They then head to Australia for matches against the Reds in Brisbane on January 20 and the Western Force in Perth on January 25.

On the South African leg, the legendary former All Black, Jones, is expected to blood several young players in preparation for Samoa's tilt at the World Cup in France.

The squad of 28 players are mostly Samoa-based and include International Rugby Board (IRB) sevens player of the year, fullback Uale Mai.

Also in the team is Auckland Blues halfback Junior Poluleuligaga while some of the touring squad have also played in the New Zealand domestic championships this year.

Their South African representative, Willem Strauss, told the planetrugby website Samoa would use the tour to expand their brand of running rugby in the hope of delivering a few surprises at the World Cup, as they have done in their previous appearances.

Samoa will return to South Africa in June for a test against the Springboks at Loftus Versfeld.

Samoa are in the same group as South Africa and England at the World Cup.

Samoa squad:

Props: Donald Kerslake, Muliufi Salanoa, Iakopo Eti Vaimoso, Pena Falefa.

Hookers: Silao Vaisola Gagaifo, Loleni Tafunai Vaiala.

Locks: Luti Pese Alafua, Mike Sala Leauvaa, Chad Slade Vaivase.

Loose forwards: Ray Stark, Justin Purdie, Wil Brame, Manaia Salavea, Ulia Ulia (captain), Marlon Sione Tafitoala, Mussolini Faalupega.

Halfbacks: Junior Poluleuligaga, Notise Tauafao.

First five-eighth: Douglas Sanft Sinamoga,

Midfield: Jerry Meafou, Willy Lafaele, Pati Fetuiai, Mika Senio.

Wings: Keli Arteria, Asalemo Malo, Timoteo Iosua,

Fullbacks: Uale Mai, Esera Lauina.