PREVIEW: New Zealand v Samoa

Tommy Leuluai will start at hooker for the Kiwis

New Zealand are the favourites to finish top of Group B but Samoa boast a team full of NRL experience so it has all of the ingredients to be a cracker.

PREVIOUS WORLD CUPS 

New Zealand have quite a rich history involved with the tournament since in their history, having played in 13 World Cups since 1954. But they have done extremely well in the last four tournaments in particular. They reached the semi-finals in 1995 and losing to Australia in the final in 2000. They remarkably beat Australia in the 2008 final but lost to the Kangaroos again in the 2013 competition.

Samoa have had some brilliant World Cup teams over the years but they probably haven’t done themselves justice in the last few tournaments. They suffered a 22-4 defeat to Fiji in 2013 so they will be aiming to go one better this time and possibly reach the semi-finals.

WORLD CUP EXPERIENCE

The Kiwis have a lot of players in their squad who have played in previous World Cup tournaments. Adam Blair, Shaun Johnson, Thomas Leuluai, Elijah Taylor, Dean Whare, Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, Jason Nightengale and Simon Mannering have all played for the Kiwis in a World Cup while Jordan Rapana and Brad Takairangi represented Cook Islands.

But Toa Samoa also have nine players in their squad who have also witnessed the highs and lows of a World Cup tournament. Ben Roberts, Frank Winterstein, Pita Godinet, Joey Leilua, Tim Lafai and Suaia Matagi have played for the Samoans in the past while Joseph Paulo and Junior Paulo represented United States in 2013 and Frank Pritchard played for New Zealand.

ONES TO WATCH

New Zealand have a couple of world class individuals in their side and you can’t really look past Jordan Rapana, Shaun Johnson and Roger Tuivasa-Sheck as the ones to watch because they just have so much flair and skill.

Josh Papalii has had a fantastic year in the NRL for Canberra Raiders and every club in the world would probably have him in their squad because he is explosive in both attack and defence while Ben Roberts has had a fine year for Castleford Tigers.

THE TEAMS

Roger Tuivasa-Sheck will start at full-back for the Kiwis while Kodi Nikorima has been handed the No. 6 shirt. Captain Adam Blair will start in the front-row, with Wigan Warriors star Tommy Leuluai being given a starting spot at hooker.

NEW ZEALAND: 1. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, 2. Dallin Watene Zelezniak, 3. Gerard Beale, 4. Brad Takairangi, 5. Jordan Rapana, 6. Kodi Nikorima, 7. Shaun Johnson, 8. Martin Taupau, 9. Tommy Leuluai, 10. Adam Blair, 11. Kenny Bromwich, 12. Joseph Tapine, 13. Simon Mannering. Subs: 14. Nelson Asofa-Solomona, 15. Russell Packer, 16. Isaac Liu, 17. Danny Levi.

New Leigh Centurions signing Peter Mata’utia will start on the wing for Samoa while Joseph Leilua will be in the centres. Sam Lisone will play at prop with Pita Godinet and Bunty Afoa coming off the bench.

SAMOA: 1. Young Tonumaipea, 2. Peter Mata’utia, 3. Timoteo Lafai, 4. Joseph Leilua, 5. Ken Maumalo, 6. Joseph Paulo, 7. Ben Roberts, 8. Junior Paulo, 9. Jazz Tevaga, 10. Sam Lisone, 11. Joshua Papalii, 12. Frank Pritchard, 13. Leeson Ah Mau. Subs: 14. Pita Godinet, 15. Herman Essese, 16. Suaia Matagi, 17. Bunty Afoa. Reserves: 18. Zane Musgrove, 19. Ricky Leutele, 20. Frank Winterstein, 21. Fa’amanu Brown.

THE FAVOURITE

New Zealand are slight favourites for the game but it wouldn’t be a total surprise if Samoa won because they are a strong and competitive outfit. 

You can watch the game LIVE on Premier Sports at 08:10am (BST) on Saturday 28 October.

How do you see the game going? Who will win? Let us know in the comments below.

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