Preview: Samoa v New Zealand

Date published: July 7 2015

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Samoa will come to a standstill on Wednesday when New Zealand take on their beloved team on their home patch in Apia.

It's a special occasion. This will be the first time these two teams have met on Samoan soil and now let us hope this is the first of many visits by tier-one countries.

New Zealand's arrival at Faleolo International Airport was similar to that of a nation returning home with the Webb Ellis trophy, such is the buzz on the island for this game that will be played in front of a sell-out 8,000 attendance.

There's even a half-day national holiday for it. Samoa will no doubt hope for a much tighter result than in 2008 and with the quality they have on display, there shouldn't be any embarrassing scorelines.

It will, however, be full on as World Cup places are up for grabs, particularly for the Highlander and Hurricane-less New Zealand.

Consquently it's a Crusader-heavy line-up from head coach Steve Hansen, with nine in total in the XV accompanied by five Blues and a solitary Chief in Sonny Bill Williams. A staggering 638 caps are on show in the forwards while a further 224 are boasted in a Dan Carter-led backline.

Samoa have their work cut out but will not take any backward steps as they finally get their wish of hosting New Zealand. They won't waste it.

The last time these teams met: It was a one-sided affair in New Plymouth as the All Blacks ran out 101-14 winners in 2008. Mils Muliaina scored a first-half hat-trick while Adam Thomson, Conrad Smith (2), Jimmy Cowan, Richard Kahui (2), Stephen Donald, Ali Williams, Jerome Kaino, Sione Lauaki, Isaia Toeava and Piri Weepu also went over. Uale Mai and Alafoti Faosiliva responded for Samoa, who were well beaten on the day.

Players to watch: On debut, full-back Tim Nanai-Williams will face off with his cousin Sonny Bill on Wednesday. It has been a long time coming for the versatile Chief, who has been playing on the Sevens Series this season in order to become eligible for next year's Olympics. On top form, Nanai-Williams is a joy to watch and he will hope to click with the likes of experienced half-back duo Tusi Pisi and Kahn Fotuali'i.

For the All Blacks, this game represents a massive opportunity while Highlanders and Hurricanes recover from the Super Rugby Final. One player in particular who desperately needs this 80 minutes is full-back Israel Dagg as the pressure is from Nehe Milner-Skudder for a RWC plane seat. Coach Hansen could go down the route of using Beauden Barrett and Colin Slade as back-up fifteens which is why Dagg must find form, and fast.

Team news: Toulouse tighthead Census Johnston makes his return to a side that is skippered by Ofisa Treviranus. The team is dominated by European-based players, with only Nanai-Williams, Paul Perez and Pisi who play outside Europe in the starting side. Alesana Tuilagi is on the wing.

Blues inside centre George Moala will make his Test debut on the right wing while a further three new All Blacks have been named amongst the replacements. They are tighthead prop Nepo Laulala, scrum-half Brad Weber and centre Charlie Ngatai. It is an experienced pack which includes Jerome Kaino, Richie McCaw and Kieran Read in the back-row while the half-backs will be Crusaders veteran duo Andy Ellis and Carter.

Prediction: We fancy an open game between these two in temperatures hitting 30°C and of course are expecting plenty of pride on show as always from Samoa. But there's too much class and experience in this All Black team not to run away with things so let's say New Zealand by 30.

Previous results:

2008: New Zealand 101-14 in New Plymouth
2001: New Zealand won 50-6 in Albany
1999: New Zealand won 71-13 in Albany
1996: New Zealand won 51-10 in Napier
1993: New Zealand won 35-13 in Auckland

The teams:

Samoa: 15 Tim Nanai-Williams, 14 Alofa Alofa, 13 Paul Perez, 12 Johnny Leota, 11 Alesana Tuilagi, 10 Tusi Pisi, 9 Kahn Fotuali'i, 8 Ofisa Treviranus (c), 7 Jack Lam, 6 Alafoti Faosiliva, 5 Kane Thompson, 4 Teofilo Paulo, 3 Census Johnston, 2 Ole Avei, 1 Sakaria Taulafo.
Replacements: 16 Ma'atulimanu Leiataua, 17 Viliamu Afatia, 18 Anthony Perenise, 19 Joe Tekori, 20 Maurie Faasavalu, 21 Pele Cowley, 22 Faialaga Afamasaga, 23 Ken Pisi.

New Zealand: 15 Israel Dagg, 14 George Moala, 13 Ryan Crotty, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 Charles Piutau, 10 Dan Carter, 9 Andy Ellis, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Richie McCaw (c), 6 Jerome Kaino, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Luke Romano, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Keven Mealamu, 1 Tony Woodcock.
Replacements: 16 Hika Elliot, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Nepo Laulala, 19 Brodie Retallick, 20 Matt Todd, 21 Brad Weber, 22 Colin Slade, 23 Charlie Ngatai.

Date: Wednesday, July 8
Venue: Apia Park, Samoa
Kick-off: 15:00 local (02:00 GMT)
Referee: Jaco Peyper

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