Manu lineup for Fiji gives World Cup clue
The Manu Samoa lineup for their game against Fiji on Saturday is likely a reflection of what Vaeluaga Steve Jackson considers his number one side heading into the Rugby World Cup.
He has made several changes to the team that lost 10-13 to U.S.A., bringing leadership group members Motu Matu’u, Chris Vui, Dwayne Polata’ivao, Logovi’i Mulipola, Jack Lam and Rey Lee-Lo into the starting fifteen.
“Our combinations for Rugby World Cup will start to come in this week, and then obviously in the last two games to try and build a bit of momentum,” Vaeluaga said.
Those two games are World Cup warm-up matches against the New Zealand Heartland XV on August 31st and Australia on September 7th.
“Once we name our World Cup squad we will be starting our best fifteen week in and week out,” the Manu Samoa head coach said.
“There’s no time for rotations or anything like that.”
He said the final selection process would begin next Monday, as they look to announce the squad a week to ten days later:
“We’ll put everybody’s name up on a whiteboard, and then we’ll go through the list of our players and we’ll make sure we do it properly.
“There’ll be players that aren’t involved in this Pacific Nations Cup that’ll be involved in the Rugby World Cup.”
Although teams can only pick 31 players for their World Cup squad, Vaeluaga fully expects to need around 40 players as injuries crop up.
“The players here know that if they don’t make World Cup, that they need to be ready and prepared," he said.
“You’re only as good as the depth of your squad, and that’s been a key message for our players going into this Pacific Nations Cup; be ready anytime.”
He said their goal for the World Cup is making the quarterfinals, and they believe they can make it.
“As a team we’re not going over there to make up numbers and just to try and compete.
“We’ll be treating every game like it’s a final, because you don’t have any second opportunities.”