Tusi Pisi benched as Manu refreshes side for Japan Cup clash
NAGOYA, JAPAN - The Manu Samoa side to take on the ascendant host nation Japan in their third round World Cup clash includes six changes to their starting fifteen.
Vaeluagaomatagi Steve Jackson said he wanted to freshen up the side given the short break between Monday’s game and this week’s crucial clash with Japan on Saturday night local time.
One of those now chosen for inclusion in the starting XV is UJ Seuteni who impressed with some good carries in Monday’s test.`
“We just need to bring some new energy and excitement into this group. There are a couple of boys who looked tired last week. The changes are really to compete against a Japanese team who play the game pretty fast. So we want to put out a team that we think can go out and do the job,” said Vaeluagaomatagi.
“I thought UJ played really well when he came off the bench against Scotland. He executed really well and took the ball to the line strong - so he deserves his opportunity.”
Vaeluaga said he had also chosen to reward players who had distinguished themselves off the bench in the clash with Scotland, when he unveiled the team on Thursday afternoon local time.
In the forwards Piula Fa’asalele and Jordan Lay have also been rewarded for strong performances with selection into the starting XV.
“Piula, starting at lock, just gives us that sort of loose forward - lock speed around the park as well. And Jordan Lay has been outstanding for us for a period of time," the coach said.
Jordan’s younger brother James has been named on the bench and is poised to make his Rugby World Cup debut.
“Yeah, what an outstanding person first and foremost - what a great kid. You know he’s trained the house down, he never complains and we look for people who can come off the bench and change some things and hopefully he will do just that. He brings good energy and lots of good chat. James knows the game really well and he works hard," Vaeluaga said.
Seuteni’s inclusion comes at the expense of veteran first five Tusi Pisi, who has been relegated to the bench.
Dwayne Polataivao comes back into the side at half back after missing the Scotland game through concussion; he replaces Melani Matavao who drops out of the side entirely.
Ah See Tuala also returns from a calf strain injury that kept him from taking the field in the first two matches of the World Cup.
The Japanese Brave Blossoms stunned rugby fans last weekend when they vanquished world number two side Ireland, shaping for a tough race to the finish for Pool A.
Saturday’s game is at City of Toyota Stadium and kicks off at 12.30am Monday Samoan time.
1. Jordan Lay (17 Tests)
2. Seilala Lam (14 Tests)
3. Michael Alaalatoa (3 Tests)
4. Piula Fa'asalele (19 Tests)
5. Kane Le'aupepe (7 Tests)
6. Chris Vui (25 Tests)
7. TJ Ioane (23 Tests)
8. Jack Lam (c) (36 Tests)
9. Dwayne Polataivao (11 Tests)
10. UJ Seuteni (4 Tests)
11. Ed Fidow (10 Tests)
12. Henry Taefu (5 Tests)
13. Alapati Leiua (30 Tests)
14. Ah See Tuala (21 Tests)
15. Tim Nanai-Williams (14 Tests)
16. Ray Niuia (6 Tests)
17. Paul Alo-Emile (15 Tests)
18. James Lay (11 Tests)
19. Senio Toleafoa (3 Tests)
20. Josh Tyrell (9 Tests)
21. Pele Cowley (13 Tests)
22. Tusi Pisi (43 Tests)
23. Kieron Fonotia (10 Tests)