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'Unapologetically Samoan' message issued to England's Manu Tuilagi

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

Samoa are braced to tackle the physicality of Manu Tuilagi for the first time when they take on England at the Rugby World Cup. The Tuilagi family is famed for the talent they have supplied to the Pacific Island nation, but that situation changes this Saturday in Lille when Manu, the youngest of the siblings, runs out for England wearing their No13 shirt.

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It’s the first time that the Samoan-born 32-year-old will be playing against the land of his birth and Samoa skills coach Tusi Pisi has explained the approach they are taking to nullify one of their own.

“We want to be unapologetically Samoan. He [Tuilagi] understands that. He plays like that. Give him a gift, he’ll give us a gift. Back and forth,” said the assistant.

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Second row Brian Alainu’u’ese explained what being ‘unapologetically Samoan’ meant. “It means doing your job as best you can, being physical in everything that you do. And with a smile on your face.

“It’s massive for me, for my family. We are a small country but we punch above our weight and I’m really honoured and privileged to be in the situation I am in right now.”

Team Form

Last 5 Games

3
Wins
1
1
Streak
3
13
Tries Scored
12
-5
Points Difference
13
2/5
First Try
0/5
2/5
First Points
1/5
1/5
Race To 10 Points
2/5

Winger Nigel Ah-Wong added: “It means expressing ourselves but, most importantly, doing it with enjoyment. It has always been a dream to put on the Samoa jersey at a World Cup. It holds great value and significance for myself every time I get the opportunity, especially here in France at a World Cup.”

With the winner of Japan versus Argentina set to qualify as Pool D runners-up for the quarter-finals, Samoa are essentially out of the knockout stage running but that doesn’t mean they have nothing to play for against England as a third-place finish in the group would earn them automatic qualification for Australia 2027.

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“We have never beaten England. If we do what we’ve trained and prepared for and we win against England, that’s the main thing,” explained coach Pisi.

“We prepared very well during the week and we’re ready for a good battle. It’s an opportunity for us to make history and we understand that. They kick a lot, it’s part of their strength. We have trained during the week to nullify it.”

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