Samoa’s stunning Test victory over Australia showed the national side is capable of winning this year’s Rugby World Cup, Samoan Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi said yesterday.
Tuilaepa said he was “over the moon” after Sunday’s 32-23 victory over the Wallabies in Sydney, a win he said “warmed the heart” of the Pacific island nation.
“No one actually thought that Australia would lose,” he told reporters. “I myself knew we would be competitive, as the way we played in the Northern Hemisphere tour showed we can compete, but defeating Australia, which is the second ranked team and is twice world champions, shows Samoa can win the World Cup.”
Former Samoa captain Pat Lam said the win ranked alongside the team’s shock 16-13 victory over Wales at the 1991 World Cup as the country’s best sporting result.
“It’s massive, right up there,” he told Radio New Zealand. “Australia’s No. 2 in the world currently ... [we] had no chance according to the Aussie media and that’s probably the worst thing you can say to a Samoan.”
“They had a real belief and determination, and their preparation has been very good,” Lam said. “The real key is they didn’t just beat them, they outfought them, outmuscled them and outplayed them completely. It was a great win.”
Lam rejected the argument that Australia lost because they had not fielded a full-strength team, saying Samoa also had key players missing.
“At the end of the day, they put out what they believed was their best Test team and Samoa put out what they had available and they absolutely hammered them,” he said.
Samoa face a difficult task at the World Cup in New Zealand in September as they are in the so-called “pool of death” with South Africa, Wales, Fiji and Namibia.
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