Samoa confident of strong RWC start

Samoa skipper Ofisa Treviranus insists the Pacific Islanders can cope without experienced lock Kane Thompson when they kick off their Rugby World Cup campaign against the United States in Brighton on Sunday.

The second-rower was sent off in last month’s warm-up clash with the Barbarians in London after punching hooker Saia Fainga’a.

He was punished with a two-game ban by World Rugby disciplinary chiefs, costing him his place in his side’s Pool B opener on Sunday.

But Treviranus is confident his side will be able to cover Thompson’s absence.

“We still have key players to control the line-out. We have Teofilo Paulo and Iosefa Tekori. They are quality players so they will organise the line-out without Kane,” said Treviranus.

Samoa have already beaten the Americans in San Jose earlier this summer and Treviranus reckons his team are capable of repeating the feat.

“We had a look at the Americans’ last warm-up game against Australia to see what their weaknesses are and their strengths are. I am sure we are physical and we can’t wait until the game,” he said.

“We feel ready to play. We have a good group of players now, we have been together for three months. Most of us missed the Pacific Nations Cup and the rest of us missed the All Blacks game in July, so it’s good to have a long period like this, good to have the team together, and the spirit will be right. We’ll be ready for this.”

“The Americans are really quick, especially the back three, and they have a good midfield as well, and their full-back Blaine Scully plays at Leicester Tigers. I’m sure they will provide a good platform there but we can control that.

“We are looking forward to our set piece, especially our scrum, it’s our weapon, and also we have Kahn Fotuali’i and Tusi Pisi to control the game, but everyone will be ready for the battle.”

America’s main concern will be stopping Alesana Tuilagi.

The winger scored the first try and set up the second in that 21-16 Pacific Nations Cup win back in July .

Eagles head coach Mike Tolkin said: “Tuilagi is a talented player and effective runner, but we know whomever we choose to play at wing will be able to perform their defensive responsibilities.

“I think both teams will have some frantic energy about them with this being the opening of the World Cup.”

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