14 Jun 2014

Sport: Manu Samoa relishing rare home tests

10:58 am on 14 June 2014

Manu Samoa are relishing a rare run of home internationals, which concludes with a one-off test against Six Nations regulars Italy this afternoon.

The Azzurri arrived in Apia fresh from a 25-14 defeat in Fiji last weekend while Samoa were held to an 18-all draw at home against Tonga.

The two sides met in a Tri-Series tournament in South Africa 12 months ago, when the Manu prevailed, but these are the first test matches in Samoa since 2012.

Assistant coach Tom Coventry says it's great to see teams from the North making the trip to the Pacific.

"I know Italy are obviously desperate to get their world ranking up and playing Samoa at home is part of the process they have to go through to do that. It's fantastic to get a couple of tests at home - obviously the Pacific Nations is played in different venues every year and this is the first time in a couple of years that they've had them back. I think Scotland was the last time Samoa played in front of their home crowd and before that it was lead-up to the Rugby World Cup in 2011. Even though it's the national side we tend to travel a lot so getting two in a row is a bit of a treat.

He also says Manu Samoa are expecting a big battle up front.

" European side obviously, Six Nations team [who are] set-piece dominant - that will be one of their strengths so I'm sure they will be trying to impose themselves on the Pacific Island sides with that style of football. In saying that I think we've got a reasonably experienced pack who play all their football in the Northern Hemisphere. I think that stands these guys in pretty good stead. It will probably be a bit of a battle and no different than the Fijian match."

Manu Samoa Assistant coach Tom Coventry.