Manu Samoa coach, Namulaulu Alama Ieremia, has strongly rejected suggestions his men will be up against a weakened Welsh team at Apia Park tomorrow.
It is why he has named his strongest possible team for what is a must win game for the Manu Samoa to restore some pride in the jersey after last week’s disappointing result at Eden Park (see story).
David Lemi is back in the starting team to reclaim the Captain’s jersey.
He is among seven changes made from last week’s playing 23. Experienced Rey Lee Lo returns to the midfield to form a solid partnership with Kieron Fonotia pushing Alapati Leiua to the wing.
Speaking to the Samoa Observer yesterday, coach Namulauulu said they want to put out a performance to make Samoa proud tomorrow.
“We’ve obviously taken a lot of lessons from last week and the boys have bounced back well,” he said.
“We’ve picked a team we believe can build on what we had last week so it’s important that we move on quickly and get stuck into our work.”
Namulauulu has had to restructure to accommodate what he expects to be a strong Welsh pack of forwards. And he is confident he’s struck the perfect combination of players to ensure momentum is maintained from the All Blacks match.
He added that there won’t be many alterations in strategy in order to “keep the team moving forward”. The team is focusing on building upon the strong start they displayed against the All Blacks, and are working to maintain that level of play throughout the entire game.
Namulauulu plans to do this through the use of the bench.
“Wales are a really fit team, so it will be really important how we use the bench.”
He will be looking towards Alapati Leiua on the right wing, to step up as a key figure in the game.
“We’ve also got an exciting back three, with D’Angelo Leuila starting.”
As fullback, and one of the last lines of defence, Leuila will be tested against the strong Welsh side.
Despite feeling very prepared and confident, Namulauulu never underestimates the competition.
“They’re a team to be highly respected, they’re very fit, young and energetic. Led well by Jamie Roberts who has been around and knows what it’s like at test level. So I obviously have a lot of respect for the Welshmen. And it’s their last test match so they’ll be looking to finish on a high.”
The support of the Samoan community has been overwhelming and Namulauulu believes the support will help Manu Samoa get that win.
“It’s been emotional coming back home, to see such support.”
Overawed he couldn’t over emphasise the significance of a home match to the players.
“We come to Samoa once a year and it’s really important that we perform. When you’re playing in front of your number one fans and your home crowd and your family is here, it will keep the boys up and make sure we perform well for them.”