Russia’s confidence will be tested in its second Pool A match against Samoa on Tuesday after suffering a shattering 30-10 loss to host Japan in the opener of the Rugby World Cup.
Russia head coach Lyn Jones said the key in prevailing over Samoa will be “recovery, fresh legs and confidence” as the Bears will face the Pacific islanders at Kumagaya Rugby Stadium following a mere four-day turnaround since Friday’s clash with the Brave Blossoms.
“Samoa will be different in attack and defense than Japan,” Jones said. “We must also be much aware of one-on-one threats from the Samoa players. They are a very dangerous team.”
Russia will be desperate for its first World Cup win after having only qualified for one tournament in 2011, losing all four four pool games.
Jones has selected the same 23-man lineup that faced Japan at Tokyo Stadium for the Samoa game.
“I think everybody played well and deserved an opportunity against Samoa,” Jones said.
Eight of Samoa’s starting 15 are making their World Cup debut, including captain Chris Vui, while coach Vaeluaga Steve Jackson will also lead a team for the first time at the tournament.
“I’m pretty excited. For most of the boys, it’s their first time. I’m pretty excited, and you want them to be excited and nervous, but I want them to play the way they have been,” Jackson said.
Among the few who have had previous World Cup experience, flyhalf Tusi Pisi, who plays for Toyota Industries Shuttles in Japan’s Top League, is the oldest Samoan to play in a Rugby World Cup at 37 years and 268 days.
Samoa may not have a wealth of experience, but the team is motivated to escape the pool stage for the first time since the 1999 World Cup. Manu Samoa reached the quarterfinals at the 1991 and 1995 tournaments.
“We’ve got a great culture in our team, and it’s the Samoan way, and it makes my job a lot easier because it’s pretty relaxed,” Jackson said.