Preview: Canada v Samoa

Date published: November 13 2014

Samoa will hope to put their off-field concerns to one side when they run out to face Canada at Stade de la Rabine in Vannes on Friday.

Samoa will be keen to put their off-field concerns to one side when they run out to take on Canada at Stade de la Rabine in Vannes, France on Friday.

Threats of a strike next week against England have been cooled following discussions with the International Rugby Board, but there remains an underlying issue that continues to rot away at the core of a proud nation that has created some outstanding talent in the game over the years.

Players are demanding financial transparency from Samoa’s Rugby Union, stating they are “unhappy with the incompetence” of the bosses.

Soon after these qualms were made public by The Rugby Paper, the IRB responded saying there would be no boycott from Samoa at Twickenham next week, which is great news for those fans who have purchased tickets. Let us now hope the players are equally pleased with a resolution.

“With all parties, including the players, committed to ongoing dialogue, the players have withdrawn their proposed action and the IRB fully expects the Union to undertake its obligation to honour its November test programme commitment in full,” said the IRB.

It was surely no coincidence that the performance against Italy last weekend was not up to a high standard, with the islanders falling 24-13 against a side they hadn’t lost to since 2009 and had defeated only last year 15-0 in Apia. Their fans expect a revival against Canada.

Speaking of the Canadians, they enter following a much-needed 17-13 victory over Namibia.

They are now on the tail-end of their tour as a trip to Stadionul National Arcul de Triumf to face Romania is next week’s finale to a journey that started against a Championship XV.

Kieran Crowley will hope to enter that game on a high but victory over Samoa is a sizeable task as they boast the likes of Alapati Leiua, Kahn Fotuali’i, TJ Ioane, David Lemi, Alofa Alofa and Maurie Fa’asavalu amongst others. If they click, any team would struggle to stop them.

Canada though have their own threats in the shape of Jeff Hassler, Conor Trainor and DTH van der Merwe while the power of Jamie Cudmore, Jebb Sinclair and Nanyak Dala will be used to create front-foot ball. Gordon McRorie’s boot will also continue to play a role on tour.

Two poor performances are unlikely from the Samoans though as they hope to build momentum before the game that almost never was at Twickenham next weekend.

Ones to watch:

For Canada: He missed out last week due to an injury but Jeff Hassler returns to action for Canada against Samoa. The Ospreys wing has had a great year in the PRO12 as a Dream Team spot was deserved. Proof of why teams should look outside the box in recruitment.

For Samoa: One of the best nines in the business, Kahn Fotuali’i remains at the base for Samoa but will have a new half-back partner this week as Michael Stanley comes in for Tusi Pisi. Fotuali’i sparks so much going forward so will be vital to the islanders’ form on Friday.

Head-to-head: The player who scored the decisive try against Namibia, Nanyak Dala takes on the underrated TJ Ioane on Friday. Dala’s crossing in Colwyn Bay was key in Canada’s recent victory and he goes up against a quality Highlander with a point to prove on debut.

Recent results:

2012: Samoa won 42-12 in Colwyn Bay
2000: Samoa won 41-22 in Apia
1999: Samoa won 17-13 in Vancouver

Prediction: Both teams to entertain but we think Samoa will take this by 10!

The teams:

Canada: 15 James Pritchard, 14 Jeff Hassler, 13 Conor Trainor, 12 Ciaran Hearn, 11 DTH van der Merwe, 10 Connor Braid, 9 Gordon McRorie, 8 Jebb Sinclair, 7 Nanyak Dala, 6 Kyle Gilmour, 5 Brett Buekeboom, 4 Jamie Cudmore, 3 Jason Marshall, 2 Aaron Carpenter, 1 Hubert Buydens (capt).
Replacements: 16 Ray Barkwill, 17 Jake Ilnicki, 18 Andrew Tiedemann, 19 Jon Phelan, 20 Richard Thorpe, 21 Sean White, 22 Patrick Parfrey, 23 Jordan Wilson-Ross.

Samoa: 15 Ahsee Tuala, 14 Alofa Alofa, 13 Rey Lee Lo, 12 Alapati Leiua, 11 David Lemi (c), 10 Michael Stanley, 9 Kahn Fotuali’i, 8 Ofisa Treviranus, 7 TJ Ioane, 6 Maurie Fa’asavalu, 5 Dan Leo, 4 Filo Paulo, 3 Census Johnston, 2 Wayne Ole Avei, 1 Zac Taulafo.
Replacements: 16 Maatulimanu Leiataua, 17 Viliamu Afatia, 18 Anthony Perenise, 19 Kane Thompson, 20 Jack Lam, 21 Pele Cowley, 22 Winston Stanley, 23 Faatoina Autagavaia.

Date: Friday, November 14
Kick-off: 19:00 local, 18:00 GMT
Venue: Stade de la Rabine, Vannes, France
Referee: George Clancy (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Peter Fitzgibbon (Ireland), Alexandre Ruiz (France)
Television match official: Geoff Warren (England)