Samoa: The Group A outsiders

As part of SA Rugby magazine’s in-depth World Cup preview, we take a look at the captain, the coach and the key players of Group A outsiders Samoa.

The captain

Flank Chris Vui, 26, leads the Samoans. He plies his trade in the English Premiership with the free-flowing Bristol Bears side who are coached by former Samoan international Pat Lam. Vui joined the Bears from another attacking team, the Worcester Warriors. He made his debut for Samoa during the 2016 November internationals and became the youngest captain in World Rugby when he skippered Samoa in 2017. He also has two caps to his name for the Blues in Super Rugby, from 2015, joining them briefly after making his name in the Junior World Championship where he played for New Zealand.

The coach

With Samoa’s financial strife and political difficulties and interference, it was never going to be easy to attract a headline coach. They did manage to secure former Blues assistant coach Steve Jackson as their head coach for this year’s World Cup, though. Jackson is a former New Zealand Maori representative and played for Tasman, Auckland, North Harbour and Southland, where he was captain. He was an assistant coach at Tasman and Counties Manukau before securing his first head coaching role at North Harbour, leading them to the Championship win which promoted them to the Premiership. The Samoan Sevens side is coached by legendary Kiwi sevens coach Gordon Tietjens, and with them favouring sevens rugby and relying on those skills, it will be interesting to see if his influence will shine through.

The key players

Most of the Samoans now ply their trade up north, between the English Premiership, the Pro14 and the French Top 14, but a couple of players certainly made their names in Super Rugby and should be quite familiar. Centre Kieron Fonotia was a mainstay for a successful Crusaders side for a few years; at the same time, Rey Lee-Lo was doing his bit for the Hurricanes.

– This is a snippet from October issue of SA Rugby magazine that previews every team at the World Cup, now on sale!  

Photo: Getty Images