Preview: Barbarians v Samoa

Date published: August 27 2015

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Firsts are rare in the long history of the Barbarians but Saturday will produce two of them when they face Samoa in London.

The Barbarians have never played Samoa – in fact they have only played a Pacific Island side twice, both times against Fiji resulting in one win (in 2013) and one loss (back in 1970).

Saturday's game will also be the first rugby match to be held at the Olympic Stadium in Stratford as preparations continue for next month's Rugby World Cup.

Toulon trio Bakkies Botha, Ali Williams and Carl Hayman get another chance to say goodbye after World XV games in South Africa and Japan, with Botha captaining one of the stronger Barbarians sides for some time.

Saia Faingaa, Luke Jones, Liam Gill, Christian Lealiifano and Taqele Naiyaravoro all get a chance to show Australia head coach Michael Cheika why he was wrong to leave them out of the Wallabies' Rugby World Cup squad.

Meanwhile, Paul Williams, the Samoa international with 18 caps to his name, turns out against his country having not played for Samoa since 2013.

His replacement at full-back Tim Nanai-Williams is one of the most exciting players in a strong Samoan side, led by London Irish's Ofisa Treviranus.

Key figures such as Kahn Fotuali'i, Tusi Pisi, Filo Paulo and Maurie Faasavalu all will get valuable minutes under their belts in what is the side's penultimate warm-up match before facing Wasps on September 5.

Taking on a Barbarians group with so much experience provides Samoa coach Stephen Betham with an ideal tool to measure where they stand ahead of the World Cup.

Prediction: A poor forecast might limit the number of tries produced but while the Barbarians will attempt to run as many tries as possible, Samoa may look more towards syncing up their pack and developing set-plays. That might just have the edge in the rain. Samoa by 5!

The teams:

Barbarians: 15 Paul Williams, 14 Taqele Naiyaraovoro, 13 Ben Tapuai, 12 Wynand Olivier, 11 Dwayne Sweeney, 10 Christian Lealiifano, 9 Luke Burgess, 8 Pierre Spies, 7 Liam Gill, 6 Adam Thomson, 5 Luke Jones, 4 Bakkies Botha (c), 3 Carl Hayman, 2 Saia Faingaa, 1 Benn Robinson.
Replacements: 16 Tolu Latu, 17 Josh Hohneck, 18 Maks van Dyk, 19 Ali Williams, 20 Jacques Potgieter, 21 Nic Groom, 22 Mike Harris, 23 Tom English.

Samoa: 15 Tim Nanai-Williams, 14 Faatoina Autagavaia, 13 Paul Perez, 12 Rey Lee-Lo, 11 Ken Pisi, 10 Tusi Pisi, 9 Kahn Fotuali'i, 8 Ofisa Treviranus, 7 Jack Lam, 6 Maurie Faasavalu, 5 Kane Thompson, 4 Filo Paulo, 3 Anthony Perenise, 2 Ole Avei, 1 Sakaria Taulafo.
Replacements: 16 Manu Leiataua, 17 Viliamu Afatia, 18 Jake Grey, 19 Faifili Levave, 20 Vavae Tuilagi, 21 Vavao Afemai, 22 Patrick Faapale, 23 Johnny Leota.

Date: Saturday, 29 August
Venue: Olympic Park, London
Kick-off: 15:00 local
Referee: Johnny Lacey (Ireland)
Assistant Referees: Greg Garner (England), Paul Dix (England)
TMO: Sean Davey (England)

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