The Kiwis and Toa Samoa will kick off their 2017 Rugby League World Cup campaign on October 28th at 8:10pm NZDT at Mt Smart Stadium, Auckland. The Kiwis are the favourites to take home the win but Samoa has a history of putting up a strong fight which always makes for an exciting game to watch.
Although the chances of Samoa winning this match are very slim, they are known to play with passion and pride which means even if the Kiwis out do them points wise – the Kiwis will have to work extremely hard to quiet the team in blue.
Toa Samoa has managed to stay out of the media in the past few weeks which could work to their advantage as they have had plenty of time and privacy to get match ready on home soil with hopes to earn a spot in the cup final four. The squad has a monster forward pack including captain Frank Pritchard, and Canberra Raiders duo Junior Paulo and Josh papalii which they hope will give them a slight advantage over the hosts.
Kiwis coach David Kidwell is promising footy the ‘Kiwi’ way when they take on Samoa this Saturday. Kidwell says he wants the young generation to want to be a Kiwi so he has focussed on changing up the style of play. There were a few shocks on Tuesday as Kidwell announced he would be going with Kodi Nikorima at five-eighth instead of Te Maire Martin, debuting Brad Takairangi at centre, revealing Dean Whare has an ankle injury and having an interchange bench with just three test caps between them. Kidwell is relying on an improved culture and united team spirit to make up for the lack of star power in the squad.
Samoa placed 8th in the 2013 rugby league world cup while the Kiwis placed 2nd. They went head to head in the pool matches and the Kiwis came out on top 42-24. The Kiwis took control early on in the group B match in Warrington but as the score sat at 36-4 with 30 minutes remaining the Samoan team made a comeback and reduced the deficit to 18.
I believe it will be a passionate encounter of two strong sides who will give their everything to represent their country and jersey with pride. The Kiwis have the advantage of playing at home and with the higher quality of players on side, but they will have to put their best foot forward to dominate a fiery side like Samoa.
Kiwis by 25
New Zealand v Samoa at Mt Smart Stadium, Auckland, 8.10pm (NZT)
Kiwis Squad: 1. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck 2. Dallin Watene-Zelezniak 3. Gerard Beale 4. Brad Takairangi 5. Jordan Rapana 6. Kodi Nikorima 7. Shaun Johnson 8. Marty Taupau 9. Thomas Leuluai 10. Adam Blair (c) 11. Kenny Bromwich 12. Joseph Tapine 13. Simon Mannering 14. Nelson Asofa-Solomona 15. Russell Packer 16. Isaac Liu 17. Danny Levi 18. Jared Waerea-Hargreaves 19. Peta Hiku 20. Te Maire Martin 21. Addin Fonua-Blake
Samoa Squad: 1. Young Tonumaipea 2. Peter Mata’utia 3. Tim Lafai 4. Joey Leilua 5. Ken Maumalo 6. Joseph Paulo 7. Ben Roberts 8. Sam Lisone 9. Jazz Tevaga 10. Junior Paulo 11. Josh Papalii 12. Frank Pritchard 13. Leeson Ah Mau 14. Pita Godinet 15. Herman Ese’ese 16. Suaia Matagi 17. Bunty Afoa 18. Zane Musgrove 19. Ricky Leutele 20. Frank Winterstein 21. Fa’amanu Brown