PREVIEW OF THE SAMOA-ALL BLACKS TEST IN APIA
WEDNESDAY, July 8, 3pm (12pm AEST)
Samoa v New Zealand at Apia Park.
Head to Head: All Blacks 5 Samoa 0
Last clash: All Blacks 101 Samoa 14, at New Plymouth, September 3, 2008
Goodwill has been everywhere since this Test was announced and it's only ramped up upon the arrival of the All Blacks. However, the visitors realise they've got their hands full in the searing heat against a settled Samoan team who have focused on nothing else for the last two weeks. New Zealand are notorious for slow starts to a season, something that could be problematic if they give the history-chasing Samoans a sniff.
Keys: Matching the grizzled All Blacks pack is the biggest challenge for Samoa, who are far more worldly wise in the arts of tight five play these days because of their players' involvement in French and English club rugby. If that's enough to gain parity then the hosts could offer a staunch challenge. Match-up of the day is surely on the wing, were bruising debutant All Black George Moala gets a baptism of fire against giant Samoan opposite Alesana Tuilagi.
SAMOA: Tim Nanai-Williams, Alofa Alofa, Paul Perez, Johnny Leota, Alesana Tuilagi, Tusi Pisi, Kahn Fotualii, Ofisa Treviranus (capt), Jack Lam, Alafoti Faosiliva, Kane Thompson, Teofilo Paulo, Census Johnston, Ole Avei, Sakaria Taulafo. Reserves: Ma'atulimanu Leiataua, Viliamu Afatia, Anthony Perenise, Joe Tekori, Maurie Faasavalu, Pele Cowley, Faialaga Afamasaga, Ken Pisi.
NEW ZEALAND: Israel Dagg, George Moala, Ryan Crotty, Sonny Bill Williams, Charles Piutau, Dan Carter, Andy Ellis, Kieran Read, Richie McCaw (capt), Jerome Kaino, Sam Whitelock, Luke Romano, Owen Franks, Keven Mealamu, Tony Woodcock. Reserves: Hika Elliot, Wyatt Crockett, Nepo Laulala, Brodie Retallick, Matt Todd, Brad Weber, Colin Slade, Charlie Ngatai.
Tip: All Blacks by 26 points