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RLWC Preview: New Zealand vs. Samoa

Dan Talintyre

NZ v SAM

With plenty discussed about them off the field, New Zealand will look to let their actions on the field do the talking when they begin their 2017 World Cup campaign on Saturday night with an intriguing clash against Samoa in Auckland.

Rocked by the decision of star forward Jason Taumalolo to line up instead for Tonga, David Kidwell’s side will head in to the tournament without a number of key players — headlined by the likes of Jesse Bromwich, Kieran Foran, Kevin Proctor and Isaac Luke.

In total, the Kiwis will field seven new players from their previous clash against Australia just six months ago — a great opportunity for the new-look side to stand up and deliver. Since defeating the Aussies in the 2015 ANZAC Test, New Zealand have won just two international fixtures (both against England), and will need to be at their best from game one in the tournament to emerge top of what has become a very tough group.

Samoa’s chances at success also took a hit pre-tournament with Anthony Milford ruled out with his shoulder injury, but the Toa still possess plenty of muscle up front with the likes of Josh Papalii, Frank Winterstein, Leeson Ah Mau and Junior Paulo paving the way.

While the top three teams from the group will progress through to the knockout rounds, the third-placed team will likely face off against Australia in the quarterfinals — making the top two spots in Group B the goal. It will likely come down to when Tonga play Samoa on November 4 in Hamilton, but should Samoa snag a shock win over the Kiwis in the opening game, it would ensure Matt Parish’s side avoid facing the Kangaroos.

New Zealand should have too much class (and players in form) for their opponents in the opening game, but don’t be shocked if Samoa keep this one closer than expected.
 

Group B: New Zealand vs. Samoa

MATCH DETAILS

Date — Saturday, October 28

Time — 6:10pm AEDT (8:10pm local time)

Venue — Mount Smart Stadium, Auckland, NZ

 

LIVE STREAM AND TV INFORMATION

Live Stream — Channel 7’s https://7live.com.au/ (Australia only)

TV — Click here for a full country-by-country list of TV broadcasts.

 

TEAM NEWS

New Zealand — 1. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck 2. Dallin Watene-Zelezniak 3. Gerard Beale 4. Brad Takairangi 5. Jordan Rapana 6. Kodi Nikorima 7. Shaun Johnson 8. Martin Taupau 9. Thomas Leuluai 10. Adam Blair 11. Kenny Bromwich 12. Joseph Tapine 13. Simon Mannering (Interchange: 14. Nelson Asofa-Solomona 15. Russell Packer 16. Isaac Liu 17. Danny Levi) — Coach: David Kidwell

Reserves: 18. Jared Waerea-Hargreaves 19. Peta Hiku 20. Te Maire Martin 21. Addin Fonua-Blake

Samoa — 1. Young Tonumaipea 2. Peter Mata'utia 3. Tim Lafai 4. Joseph Leilua 5. Ken Maumalo 6. Joseph Paulo 7. Ben Roberts 8. Junior Paulo 9. Jazz Tevaga 10. Sam Lisone 11. Josh Papalii 12. Frank Pritchard 13. Leeson Ah Mau (Interchange: 14. Pita Godinet 15. Herman Ese'ese 16. Suaia Matagi 17. Bunty Afoa) — Coach: Matt Parrish

Reserves: 18. Zane Musgrove 19. Ricky Leutele 20. Frank Winterstein 21. Fa'amanu Brown

 

RLWC STANDINGS — POOL B

 

Played

Won

Lost

F/A

Points

New Zealand

-

-

-

-

-

Samoa

-

-

-

-

-

Tonga

-

-

-

-

-

Scotland

-

-

-

-

-

 

HISTORY

New Zealand has faced Samoa three times in history, with the Kiwis emerging victorious on all three occasions. Their last clash was a gutsy 14-12 win as part of the 2014 Four Nations, with the home side fighting back late to defeat Samoa. The two sides have also played once before at Mount Smart Stadium, with New Zealand winning 50-6.

 

PLAYER TO FOLLOW — Simon Mannering, New Zealand

While he might not captain the Kiwis side, there’s no denying the importance of Simon Mannering as a leader within this New Zealand squad — particularly given the absence of several big names in this year’s tournament. Named at lock with no genuine back-rower on the bench, Mannering will seemingly play the full 80 minutes against Samoa, as New Zealand lean once again on his go-forward and relentless defence. The Warriors stalwart developed a nice attacking partnership with Shaun Johnson, and it’ll be interesting to see whether that features on the international stage as well this weekend.

 

PREDICTION

There's a feeling that New Zealand won't be as strong this year with a number of players unavailable, but with their backs up against the wall, the Kiwis may well use that as motivation for success. Samoa too are missing a number of quality players that would have otherwise expected to have, and there's still a noticeable gap between these two. New Zealand by 20.