19 Sep 2015

Sport: Manu name experienced team for World Cup opener

8:40 am on 19 September 2015

Samoa has picked a well-tested and experienced line-up for Monday's Rugby World Cup opener against the United States in Brighton.

Four of the matchday squad are playing in their third World Cup, while six are suiting up for the second time.

17 of the matchday 23 also featured in the historic test against the All Blacks in Apia in July.

Teofilo Paulo and Jack Lam are the only newcomers in the pack, which will be led by skipper and number eight Ofisa Treviranus.

 Ofisa Treviranus will captain Manu Samoa at Rugby World Cup.

Ofisa Treviranus will captain Manu Samoa at Rugby World Cup. Photo: AFP

Fullback Tim Nanai-Williams will be making just his second test appearance, while the experienced pairing of Kahn Fotuali'i and Tusi Pisi will direct the team in the halves, with vice-captain Alesana Tuilagi on the left wing.

Tim Nanai-Williams made his test debut for Samoa against the All Blacks in July.

Tim Nanai-Williams made his test debut for Samoa against the All Blacks in July. Photo: AFP

Prop Census Johnston only joined the squad on Monday after being called in as an injury replacement for Logovi'i Mulipola, and is poised to play his 50th test from the bench.

Meanwhile replacement halfback Vavao Afemai is the only locally-based player in the matchday squad.

Manu Samoa coach Stephen Betham says the team has been preparing for this tournament for a long time and have had an ideal preparation.

Manu Samoa head coach Stephen Betham.

Manu Samoa head coach Stephen Betham. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Samoa came from behind to beat the Eagles in the Pacific Nations Cup in July and Betham says USA showed in that tournament that they can play and that they're fast and physical.

The Pacific Islanders also prevailed in the only previous World Cup meeting between the teams eight years ago.

Veteran lock Kane Thompson was unavailable for selection due to suspension, while loose forwards TJ Ioane and Vavae Tuilagi were ruled out through injury.

Stephen Betham says because of that they've had to be a little creative with some of their bench cover but the majority of the squad have been together since July and are used to working together to plug any gaps.

Samoa squad:

1 Sakaria Taulafo (36)

2 Ole Avei (21)

3 Anthony Perenise (24)

4 Teofilo Paulo (18)

5 Iosefa Tekori (32)

6 Maurie Fa'asavalu (25)

7 Jack Lam (15)

8 Ofisa Treviranus, captain (32)

9 Kahn Fotuali'i (24)

10 Tusi Pisi (21)

11 Alesana Tuilagi (34)

12 Rey Lee-Lo (2)

13 Paul Perez (11)

14 Ken Pisi (6)

15 Tim Nanai-Williams (1)

16 Viliamu Afatia (11)

17 Motu Matu'u (3)

18 Census Johnston (49)

19 Faifili Levave (6)

20 Alafoti Faosiliva (13)

21 Vavao Afemai (6)

22 Mike Stanley (6)

23 Fa'atoina Autagavaia (16)

The Manu Samoa team at their Rugby World Cup welcoming ceremony at the Royal Pavilion in Brighton.

The Manu Samoa team at their Rugby World Cup welcoming ceremony at the Royal Pavilion in Brighton. Photo: AFP