Samoa head coach Matt Parish has hailed his side as “inspirational” following their 27-26 semi-final victory over hosts England at the Emirates Stadium.
The island, with a population of just over 200,000, has become the first-ever tier two nation to reach the final of a Rugby League World Cup, and will face favourites Australia at Old Trafford next Saturday.
“It was inspirational and passionate,” said boss Parish. “It’s what this team is all about.
“Pride. It’s an unbelievable effort from these guys. We’ve had a few things go against us; five guys have gone home and we’re down to the bare bones.
Matt Parish: To put Samoa in a World Cup final, it’s incredible
“But these guys keep turning up for one another. They have got each other’s back. Plenty of people had plenty to say four weeks ago, about going on planes back home and all that but the pride, belief and passion from his group is phenomenal.
“It’s incredible how much support Samoa had over here already. I think the strategy with these guys was to never give up.
“Belief, which is what we’re all about. I’ll take my hat off to a large number of my squad, who had a Grand Final seven weeks ago. We still asked these guys for effort and they turn up. It’s inspirational.
“To put Samoa in a World Cup final, a tiny little dot in the middle of the pacific, it’s incredible.”
Junior Paulo faces nervy wait
Samoa captain Junior Paulo once again faces a nervy wait after being sin-binned during the clash in the first half. The Parramatta Eels forward was sent for 10 after a tip tackle on opposition Tom Burgess.
The 28-year-old had received a one-game ban after their victory over Tonga for a high forearm on David Fifita. However, he successfully challenged the suspension to feature against England.
On the incident, Paulo said: “It’s a game of footy, sometimes accidents are going to happen.
“We play at a fast pace. Unfortunately, I was caught in something very unintentional. It’s the way footy goes sometimes. There’s not much I can do, but we can only control what we can. We’ll have to enjoy the moment for now.”