Vui Captain, Lam out: Manu team for Cup opener unveiled

KUMAGAYA, JAPAN - With Jack Lam out injured, Chris Vui will lead Samoa in their first match of the 2019 Rugby World Cup against Russia on Tuesday night.

Vui, who returns to the side after missing two games with a flu, is one of four changes to the starting XV from Samoa’s last test against Australia on September 7th.

Logovi’i Mulipola and Motu Matu’u swap with Jordan Lay and Ray Niuia to start in the front row, while TJ Ioane shifts from six to seven to cover the loss of Lam.

Manu Samoa Coach Vaeluagaomatagi Steve Jackson said he was excited to name the first World Cup team. 

"We've been here for a period of time now, and we've watched all the other teams play their first game," he said at a press conference on Sunday night local time. 

"From a coach's point of view we're extremely excited just to get out there and start playing some rugby.

"We wanted to go close to the team that we thought would start the game for Russia against Australia.

"A couple of other people changed our mind in that game."

The coach said that the addition of Vui is expected to strengthen the team's line out performance.

Ahsee Tuala will start on the right wing in place of Belgium Tuatagaloa, who drops out of the 23.

Henry Taefu comes onto the bench to cover the backs, with lock Senio Toleafoa also coming into the lineup.

Dwayne Polataivao will start at halfback in the absence of Scott Malolua, so Melani Matavao will take his place on the bench.

Assistant Coach Tuifaasisina Alistair Rogers said he was under no illusions about what Russia would bring to the Tuesday night clash. 

"That first 20 minutes, they showed a lot of passion and really took the game to Japan," he said. 

"No doubt they're going to bring it for longer periods, and we're expecting them to throw the kitchen sink at us

"We see it as a really good challenge, a good start for us."

Kickoff is at 11:15 Tuesday Samoan time. 

Starting XV 

1. Logovi’I Mulipola (30 Tests)
2. Motu Motu’u (21 Tests)
3. Michael Alaalatoa (1 Test)
4. Teofilo Paulo (34 Tests)
5. Kane Le’aupepe (5 Tests)
6. Chris Vui (c) (23 Tests)
7. TJ Ioane (21 Tests)
8. Afaesetiti Amosa (3 Tests)
9. Dwayne Polataivao (10 Tests)
10. Tusi Pisi (41 Tests)
11. Ed Fidow (8 Tests)
12. Reynold Lee-Lo (25 Tests)
13. Alapati Leiua (28 Tests)
14. Ah See Tuala (20 Tests)
15. Tim Nanai-Williams (12 Tests)

16. Ray Niuia (4 Tests)
17. Paul Alo-Emile (13 Tests)
18. Jordan Lay (15 Tests)
19. Senio Toleafoa (2 Tests)
20. Josh Tyrell (7 Tests)
21. Melani Matavao (9 Tests)
22. AJ Alatimu (5 Tests)
23. Henry Taefu (3 Tests

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