Vaovasamanaia names impressive side to take on Japan in must-win RWC Pool match


In a must win match for the Manu Samoa, Vaovasamanaia Seilala Mapusua has named an impressive side to take on the Brave Blossoms at Stadium de Toulouse on Friday.

Samoa’s Head Coach has made four changes to the starting line-up that took a tough 19-10 loss to Argentina in the weekend.

Alai D’Angelo Leuila finally gets his long awaited start in the 12 jersey. Leuila impressed against Tonga at Apia Park with his physicality and field position kicking.

Leuila will pair up with Tumua Manu who shifts to outside centre while UJ Seuteni is not involved in the matchday squad this time around.

In the forward pack Taleni Seu deservedly gets his starting spot back at blindside flanker. This moves Theodore McFarland back to pair at lock with Captain Chris Vui while Brian Alainu’uese drops back out of the 23.

Former All Black Steven Luatua moves to the bench to make way for Sa Jordan Taufua to start at No 8.  Taufua will look to make an impact in his first start since November 2022 against Romania.

“It’s part of our game plan,” explains Vaovasamanaia. “Steven has played a lot of minutes for us over the last couple of months so we see him playing an effective role in the latter part of the game where we need some calm heads and experience.”

Nigel Ah Wong drops from the side as speedster Ed Fidow gets his first start of the Rugby World Cup on the right wing.

Ben Lam on the left wing and Duncan Paia’aua at fullback completes the Samoan backline – a mixture of speed, power and skill as they look to fire up 🔥 against Japan.

No other changes have been made to the backline. Jonathan Taumateine and Christian Leali’ifano will continue to steer the Samoan ship around the paddock.

The front row of James Lay, Seilala Lam and Paul Alo-Emile remains the same.

Fritz Lee is joined my Seu and Taufua in the back row.

Meanwhile Japan’s head coach, Jamie Joseph, will be fielding four players who’ve faced Samoa in the previous two RWCs. Shota Horie, Keita Inagaki, Michael Leitch, and Kotaro Matsushima all featured for Japan v Samoa in 2015 and 2019.

Japan have won two of their last three matches against the Samoans at the World Cup, however, the Manu will fancy their chances of beating Japan in Toulouse as they defeated the Brave Blossoms in their last meeting.

Jamie Joseph has made just two changes to the team that lost 34-12 against England.

In the starting XV, Dylan Riley takes the outside-center spot from Tomoki Osada, while Lomano Lemeki steps in for the injured Semisi Masiresa as full-back.

Lemeki returns as a starter for the first time since October 23, 2021, when they faced Australia. In the previous match against England, he made a significant impact off the bench, gaining 54 meters, the second-highest for Japan.

Samoa: 15 Duncan Paia’aua, 14 Ed Fidow, 13 Tumua Manu, 12 D’Angelo Leuila, 11 Ben Lam, 10 Christian Leali’ifano, 9 Jonathan Taumateine, 8 Sa Jordan Taufua, 7 Fritz Lee, 6 Taleni Seu, 5 Theo McFarland, 4 Chris Vui (c), 3 Paul Alo-Emile, 2 Seilala Lam, 1 James Lay

Replacements: 16 Sama Malolo, 17 Jordan Lay, 18 Michael Alaalatoa, 19 Steven Luatua, 20 Alamanda Motuga, 21 Melani Matavao, 22 Neria Fomai, 23 Danny Toala

Date: Thursday, September 28 (France) Friday 29 Sept in Samoa.

Venue: Stadium de Toulouse, Toulouse

Kick-off: 21:00 local (8am Friday in Samoa, 20:00 BST, 19:00 GMT)

Referee: Jaco Peyper (SARU)

Assistant Referees: Ben O’Keeffe (NZR), Craig Evans (WRU)

TMO: Marius Jonker (SARU)

Daniel M Limā