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Samoa opt for continuity with strong team picked for Argentina

Jordan Taufua representing Samoa against Chile

Head coach Seilala Mapusua has made just three changes to his Samoa team to play Argentina in Pool D in Saint-Étienne on Friday, with only two changes to his forwards and one change in his backs from the team that defeated Chile 43-10 in their last game.

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Paul Alo-Emile comes into the front-row, Brian Alainu’u’ese into the second-row, while powerful winger Ben Lam joins out wide.

Chris Vui will captain the team for the 12th time in his career, and third time at the Rugby World Cup after their pool victory against Russia in 2019 and last week against Chile.

Bringing experience from other countries, Samoa have three players in the team who have played Test rugby elsewhere, with Steven Luatua and Charlie Faumuina earning 15 and 50 caps for the All Blacks respectively, while playmaker Christian Leali’ifano amassed 26 tests for the Wallabies.

Moana Pasifika is well represented with 5 of the Samoan players playing together for them in Super Rugby, Nigel Ah-Wong, Christian Leali’ifano, Jonathan Taumateine, Danny Toala, and Alai D’Angelo Leuila.

Fullback Duncan Paia’aua is the only player to have played every minute for Samoa this year across all five tests. He is currently on a three-game try-scoring run, after crossing just once across his first four tests for Samoa, while flanker Theo McFarland did not miss a tackle against Chile, completing all 14 attempts.

SAMOA TEAM TO PLAY ARGENTINA ON FRIDAY

1. James Lay
2 Seilala Lam
3 Paul Alo-Emile
4 Brian Alainu’u’ese
5 Chris Vui (c)
6 Theo McFarland
7 Fritz Lee
8 Steven Luatua
9 Jonathan Taumateine
10 Christian Leali’ifano
11 Ben Lam
12 Tumua Manu
13 Ulupano Junior Seuteni
14 Nigel Ah-Wong
15 Duncan Paia’aua

Replacements:
16 Sama Malolo
17 Charlie Faumuina
18 Michael Alaalatoa
19 Taleni Junior Agaese Seu
20 Sa Jordan Taufua
21 Melani Matavao
22 Alai D’Angelo Leuila
23 Danny Toala

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Fixture
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Argentina
19 - 10
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Jon 23 hours ago
Why Sam Cane's path to retirement is perfect for him and the All Blacks

> It would be best described as an elegant solution to what was potentially going to be a significant problem for new All Blacks coach Scott Robertson. It is a problem the mad population of New Zealand will have to cope with more and more as All Blacks are able to continue their careers in NZ post RWCs. It will not be a problem for coaches, who are always going to start a campaign with the captain for the next WC in mind. > Cane, despite his warrior spirit, his undoubted commitment to every team he played for and unforgettable heroics against Ireland in last year’s World Cup quarter-final, was never unanimously admired or respected within New Zealand while he was in the role. Neither was McCaw, he was considered far too passive a captain and then out of form until his last world cup where everyone opinions changed, just like they would have if Cane had won the WC. > It was never easy to see where Cane, or even if, he would fit into Robertson’s squad given the new coach will want to be building a new-look team with 2027 in mind. > Cane will win his selections on merit and come the end of the year, he’ll sign off, he hopes, with 100 caps and maybe even, at last, universal public appreciation for what was a special career. No, he won’t. Those returning from Japan have already earned the right to retain their jersey, it’s in their contract. Cane would have been playing against England if he was ready, and found it very hard to keep his place. Perform, and they keep it however. Very easy to see where Cane could have fit, very hard to see how he could have accomplished it choosing this year as his sabbatical instead of 2025, and that’s how it played out (though I assume we now know what when NZR said they were allowing him to move his sabbatical forward and return to NZ next year, they had actually agreed to simply select him for the All Blacks from overseas, without any chance he was going to play in NZ again). With a mammoth season of 15 All Black games they might as well get some value out of his years contract, though even with him being of equal character to Richie, I don’t think they should guarantee him his 100 caps. That’s not what the All Blacks should be about. He absolutely has to play winning football.

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