Samoans understrength for Ireland test
Coach Stephen Betham planning without handful of key players but insists his side will not roll over
Samoan scrumhalf Kahn Fotuali’i will captain the side against Ireland. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho
Northampton’s highly rated scrumhalf Kahn Fotuali’i will lead the side out in the absence of Gavin Williams, as the Stade centre is one of five front line injuries.
Williams is joined in the infirmary by Harlequins flanker Maurie Fa’asavalu, Worcester wing David Lemi (shoulder), Perpignan lock Daniel Leo and, most damaging of all, Toulouse tighthead prop Census Johnston.
Johnston picked up a knock last weekend and was deemed only “80 per cent” fit after training today at Blackrock College RFC. Nonetheless, Leicester’s Logovi’i Mulipola will provide Ireland’s new cap Jack McGrath with a stern test at scrum time.
Japan based wing Alesana Tuilagi isn’t on tour, nor is James So’oialo, who was the fullback and place-kicker in the defeat of Scotland last June and who recently left Connacht to return to New Zealand having failed to settle in Galway.
It was also confirmed that the IRFU have agreed to a minute silence before kick-off in memory of Peter Fatialofa. The legendary Samoan prop passed away last Tuesday.
“We will be dedicating the game on Saturday to Peter’s work not only for Samoa but rugby,” said Samoa manager Sami Leota.
The squad have 10 French based players, 10 in the UK, four in New Zealand, four in Japan and two still playing in Samoa.
“We aren’t here to make up the numbers but to give it our best,” said Betham.
Samoa (v Ireland): F Autagavaia; A Leiua, G Pisi, J Leota, B Vaalu; T Pisi, K Fotuali’i (capt); S Taulafo, W Ole Avei, L Mulipola; F Lemalu, T Paulo; O Treviranus, J Lam, T Tuifua. Replacements: T Paulo, V Afatia, J Johnston, I Tekori, A Faosiliva, J Sua, I Tuifua, F Otto.