9 Oct 2015

Manu Samoa make seven changes

2:42 pm on 9 October 2015

Samoa coach Stephen Betham has made seven changes for the Pacific Islanders' final Rugby World Cup Pool B game against Scotland, as the Manu seek to salvage some pride.

Last weekend's 26-5 defeat against Japan ended Samoa's playoff hopes and put them at risk of missing automatic qualification for the next World Cup.

Hooker Ma'atulimanu Leiataua will start in his first World Cup match, while Maurie Faasavalu, Jack Lam and Alafoti Faosiliva will line up in an all-new loose forward trio.

Manu Samoa hooker Ma'atulimanu Leiataua will make his Rugby World Cup debut against Scotland.

Manu Samoa hooker Ma'atulimanu Leiataua will make his Rugby World Cup debut against Scotland. Photo: AFP

In the backs, Rey Lee-Lo and George Pisi form a new midfield pairing and Fa'atoina Autagavaia comes onto the left wing for the suspended Alesana Tuilagi.

Samoa-based first-five Patrick Fa'apale is also poised to make his World Cup debut from the bench.

Halfback Kahn Fotuali'i will captain the side in the absence of the injured Ofisa Treviranus, while hooker Ole Avei is out with a knee problem and lock Joe Tekori has withdrawn from the squad for personal reasons.

Betham said it had been a challenging week since their World Cup exit was confirmed but they want to finish the tournament on a high.

"We really want to restore some pride in our game, and in ourselves, so it would be nice to think we could finish with a good performance."

Alesana Tuilagi's five-week ban for striking Japan's Harumichi Tatekawa with his knee caused an uproar, with fans and ex-players calling the suspension ludicrous for what appeared nothing more than a player running at the opposition and a poorly executed tackle.

Manu Samoa vice-captain Alesana Tuilagi.

Manu Samoa vice-captain Alesana Tuilagi. Photo: AFP

Betham too was surprised.

"We were shocked at the suspension handed out to Alesana and we really feared for Faifili Levave but thankfully, he is available to play," the coach said.

"Despite losing Alesana and a couple to injuries, we trust our entire squad so we know that others will step up and take their chances this weekend."

Samoa is currently fourth in Pool B and need to beat Scotland with a bonus point.

They will be hoping Japan gain nothing against the United States to leapfrog the Asian side into third place, which would qualify them for the 2019 World Cup.