Samoa have vowed to throw everything at Scotland this weekend in a bid to heal the pain of their shock early World Cup exit.
Vern Cotter’s side face the Pacific islanders at St James’ Park in Newcastle on Saturday knowing that a win will guarantee them a place in the Rugby World Cup quarter-finals.
It was widely expected before the tournament that the clash would be a straight shoot-out between the two to join Pool B top seeds South Africa in the last eight.
However, Samoa’s 26-5 defeat by Japan in Milton Keynes last Saturday has left them eliminated from the tournament, with only pride and a slim shot at third place, which brings automatic qualification for the 2019 World Cup, to play for.
Yesterday at the Samoan team hotel in Gateshead, assistant coach Alama Ieremia was asked what he would say to those who thought his team would be less motivated and there for the taking.
“I would say they would be wrong,” was his frank response.
The former All Blacks centre added: “We are pretty disappointed to be knocked out of the tournament. We have had a good hard look at ourselves and will try to fix the problems. We want to finish the tournament on a high. This game is critical for us as far as we are concerned. We are playing for a lot of pride and a lot of people who put their faith in us.
“This team won’t be together for a long time and for people back home, we failed them, and need to make sure we do the job.”
Ieremia is confident the Samoan players will put a lot of what they got wrong against Japan right against Scotland and said: “Most coaches will understand the scenario. At some time in their career they will have been in our position before. We are definitely coming out to have a better performance than we had last week.”
Ieremia was in the Samoan squad who took part in the World Cup Sevens at Murrayfield in 1993 and then, after switching allegiance to New Zealand, partnered Christian Cullen in the midfield of the All Blacks team who won the 1999 World Cup quarter-final at Murrayfield. “Against your beautiful orange jerseys,” he said with a beaming smile yesterday in reference to one of the more garish change kits in Scotland’s history.
The backs coach revealed he has been impressed with what he has seen from the current Scotland. “We’ve been looking at them before we came to this tournament,” he said. “We had a look at all our opposition before coming in. Their big games to date have been pretty consistent, they have been riding a change under Vern [Cotter], we recognise that. They have certainly been playing some good footy.
“I think they have very skilled backs. [Greig] Laidlaw has been around for a while and is a pretty astute leader from half-back as well. They are a good attacking backline, consistent and pretty solid with some good finishers.
“They are pretty decent out wide and some of the tries they have scored show they have got their act together. They are playing enterprising rugby and it suits them.”