Injured Tuala forces last-minute lineup change
Manu Samoa have been forced into a late change for their lineup to face Russia in their Rugby World Cup opener on Tuesday night.
Right winger Ahsee Tuala has been withdrawn from the team with a slight calf problem, resulting in a backline reshuffle.
Alapati Leiua takes the 14 jersey, with Rey Lee-Lo shifting out one position to centre.
Henry Taefu comes into the team at second five, and Ulupano Seuteni comes onto the bench to provide backline cover.
Meanwhile Russia are set to field the same 23 that lost 30-10 to Japan on Friday.
Manu Samoa head coach Vaeluaga Steve Jackson said that’s no surprise, even with the short rest between games:
“I think they played extremely well, especially in that first probably 40 minutes.
“Everyone’s gotta have a short turnaround at some point in time in the Rugby World Cup campaign, it’s just about rest and recovery and making sure the players are fresh and available to play on game day.”
He said Russia have got a good kicking game and a big pack.
“They’ll rely on that, they’ll rely on the set piece and they carry hard,” Vaeluaga said.
He said their performance against Japan shows no team at the World Cup can be written off, and gives the team even further belief they can fulfill their day one goal of a quarterfinal place.
“As we’ve seen over the last few days, there’s been a few teams that have been a little bit nervous, being their first Rugby World Cup game,” Vaeluaga said.
“We’ve just told our players to go and have some fun and enjoy themselves really, to take some of that nervousness away from them.”
The coach said the focus in training this week has been largely on the Manu themselves rather than what Russia do:
"If we do what we've trained and focused on since we've been here, things will take care of themselves.”