Samoa are World Cup regulars and have featured in the past seven tournaments. Their most successful years came in the early World Cups when they made it to the quarter finals in 1991 and 1995. Since then, Samoa have failed to make it out of the pool stages. They are the second largest of the Pacific Island nations after Fiji. With a population of just over 200,000, Samoa are truly punching above their weight.
This World Cup could signal a change of fortunes for the island nation. In November 2021, World Rugby approved a birthright amendment to their laws. The law change meant players could switch their international eligibility providing they hadn't played for the nation they'd been capped by for three years. Suddenly Samoa were able to pick from a number of players who had previously been capped by other nations. A number of former All Blacks including Steven Luatua, Charlie Faumuina and Lima Sopoaga have come onto the market. Faumuina played half a century worth of caps at tighthead for rugby's greatest international side! Australian fly half, Christian Leali'ifano, also became available. These players are welcome reinforcements to a Samoan side which already had a number of strengths. One of Samoa's most exciting prospects is the loose forward Theo McFarland. McFarland was 3rd for defenders beaten per 80 and 4th for clean breaks per 80 amongst the Premiership's loose forwards last season.* Unfortunately his season was cut short with an ACL injury but he was setting the world alight at Saracens. McFarland is one of the players to watch this World Cup.
Samoa are on the easier side of the pool draw and find themselves with England, Argentina, Japan and Chile. The main priority for Seilala Mapusua is guaranteeing qualification for the 2027 World Cup with a third place finish in the pool. Japan will be the big match earmarked by the players and coaches. Samoa have already beaten Japan this summer in a tightly fought 22-24 victory. The Samoans won't be setting their sights short though. England and Argentina have also been on a poor run of form and anything could happen on the day, including an early red card. You wouldn't entirely rule out a return to the quarter finals for the first time in 28 years.
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