Rugby World Cup: Samoa without former All Blacks for pool clash with Japan

Samoa will start their Pool D clash against Japan in Toulouse on Friday (NZ time) without any of their former All Blacks, after coach Seilala Mapusua made four changes to the line-up that lost to Argentina last week.

Steven Luatua moved to the bench to make way for Sa Jordan Taufua at No. 8, prop Charlie Faumuina dropped out of the matchday squad altogether and first-five Lima Sopoaga, who missed the Pumas clash with a calf strain, was again omitted.

"(It's) part of our game plan, Steven has played a lot of minutes for us over the last couple of months so we see him playing an effective role in the latter part of the game where we need some calm heads and experience," Mapusua explained.

Lima Sopoaga.
Lima Sopoaga. Photo credit: Getty Images

"With Charlie, he is carrying a little bit of an injury ... Lima is tracking along nicely with his rehab and recovery. He should be back available for selection following the game against Japan."

Mapusua has brought Ed Fidow onto the right wing in place of Nigel Ah Wong, while Alai D'Angelo Leuila slots in at inside centre to add a second kicking option with Tumua Manu shifting to the outside midfield spot.

Theo McFarland, outstanding in the opening win against Chile, moves back to lock after playing in the back row against Argentina with Taleni Seu rewarded for a fine performance off the bench last week with a start at blindside flanker.

Former Wallaby Christian Leali'ifano will continue to lead the backline from first-five, as Samoa look to reprise their 24-22 victory over the Brave Blossoms in the Pacific Nations Cup earlier this year.  

"We have seen an improvement in the Japanese team, we have also seen improvement in our own team," Mapusua said. "We can't really look too much to that game and that result.

"Japan are very well disciplined team and the changes that we have made we see as setting the style of play we want to play, as well as adding a bit more variety in our attack."  

Samoa: 1-James Lay, 2-Seilala Lam, 3-Paul Alo-Emile, 4-Chris Vui (co-captain), 5-Theo McFarland, 6-Taleni Seu, 7-Fritz Lee, 8-Sa Jordan Taufua, 9-Jonathan Taumateine, 10-Christian Leali'ifano, 11-Ben Lam, 12-Alai D'Angelo Leuila, 13-Tumua Manu, 14-Ed Fidow, 15-Duncan Paia'aua

Replacements: 16-Sama Malolo, 17-Jordan Lay, 18-Michael Alaalatoa (co-captain), 19-Steven Luatua, 20-Alamanda Motuga, 21-Melani Matavao, 22-Neria Fomai, 23-Danny Toala