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Samoa U20s ready to face Tonga for World Rugby Trophy place

The Samoa U20s rugby team are well into their preparations for the regional qualifier against Tonga on the 4th and 8th of December at Marist St Joseph’s Stadium.

The qualifier determines who will represent Oceania at the second-tier World Rugby U20 Trophy next year, the winner of that going onto the following year’s World Rugby U20 Championship.

Samoa are in the qualifier having lost this year’s World Rugby U20 Trophy final to Fiji, with Fiji earning a place in the 2019 edition of the top-tier Championship.

Samoa Rugby Union general manager of high performance Zane Hilton said that result was disappointing.

“The World Rugby Trophy is a key program for us as a stepping stone for getting back up into the World Championships.

“It’s such an important competition for us.”

The Samoa U20 squad to play Tonga remains unchanged from the one that came 2nd at the Trophy in September.

Of the 27-strong squad, six players are listed as being based in New Zealand.

“Tonga themselves have recruited upwards of 12-15 players from outside the country,” Hilton said.

“It will be a strong side, our challenge will be making sure we match them physically.”

Samoa have been in camp for over a month training towards the Tonga games.

“Head coach Mailo Potu Leavasa and assistant Stephen Betham have done an excellent job in preparing the group,” said Hilton.

Hilton also said it’s exciting to be hosting this calibre of World Rugby event in Samoa.

“It’s us dipping our toes in the water, moving forward we’d love to get more games here on the island at any level for the fans.”

He said it’s key that fans can resonate with the Samoan teams.

“Playing in front of family and friends is a huge part of what all the Manu teams are about.

“There’s a lot of conversations in World Rugby at the moment about what the global game looks like after the World Cup next year.

“We wanna make sure we’re up to being able to host quality games here on the island.

“The barrier to hosting things is having four teams here at once; having four gyms, four quality hotels, four quality training fields.”

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