Samoa inspired by Aussie selection
July 17, 2011
Australia's Rod Davies feels the full force of fellow winger Alesana Tuilagi © Getty Images
Samoa lock Daniel Leo revealed that he and his team-mates had been "offended" by Australia head coach Robbie Deans' decision to rest some of his star players for Saturday's Test in Sydney.
The Samoans had been beaten 74-7 on their previous visit to the ANZ Stadium, six years previously, and, consequently, few eyebrows were raised when Deans opted to leave the likes of Quade Cooper out of his starting line-up for the Wallabies first Test of the season. However, the Australia boss was left red-faced after Samoa outscored their hosts by four tries to two on their way to a stunning 32-23 victory.
Speaking afterwards, Samoa lock Leo admitted that the Wallabies' selection policy had provided them with all the motivation they needed to upset the odds.
"There was probably a bit of underestimation on the Wallabies' part," he told the Sydney Morning Herald. "We fed off the fact that they were using it as a trial match for a few guys they hadn't seen; we were quite offended by that.
"We were allowed to play the sort of game we wanted to play, coming off the line and connecting with a few hits - we could see they were rattled. We're confidence players and once the guys could see the momentum in our favour there were guys putting on hits that don't usually put on big hits like that. You grow two feet for your team-mates. It was infectious and spread through the team."
The victory was especially sweet for Leo given that he had made his Test debut in the 74-7 defeat by the Wallabies in 2005.
"The turnaround in six years is amazing," he said. "Hopefully the rest of the world will wake up and see that Pacific island teams can be a dominant force in rugby, given the resources. I think you've only just seen the tip of the iceberg of what's to come at the World Cup, not just with us but our Fijian and Tongan brothers as well."
Given that he has experienced the trauma of a demoralising debut, Leo will doubtless empathise with those Aussies who were given their first taste of international rugby in the game in Sydney.
Nick Phipps suffered more than most, the 22-year-old scrum-half having been at fault for two of Samoa's tries. Phipps insisted that nerves had not gotten the better of him but admitted that he had been taken aback by Samoa's physicality.
"Their willingness around the ruck was something that we didn't see coming first up," he told AAP. "They did really well, getting over there disrupting our ball, pinching a lot of it.... the physicality around the ruck and the willingness of the players was definitely something that was a step up from Super Rugby."
Rod Davies was also left with plenty of food for thought after being completely dominanted by opposing winger Alesana Tuilagi, who scored Samoa's opening try.
"He's pretty big, he's pretty agile as well. Credit to him, he played a great game and got the points today," Davies said of the Leicester Tigers ace. "Obviously, that's not the way I pictured my debut Test. I guess the only way is up from here. Back to the drawing board and look for the positives in the game and obviously the negatives we'll work on, which is plenty for me."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Italy coach Jacques Brunel spoke to ESPN ahead of his final season as Italy coach and tells of his desire to experiment and evolve
"There's no bull with me, I just tell it straight." Tom Hamilton talks to Warren Gatland in an exclusive interview
With the retirement of Adam Jones, Welsh rugby says goodbye to a great player and one of its biggest personalities too, writes Tom Hamilton
Cards, kicks, slips and scores: It's The Week in Pictures, the finest snaps from the last seven days of rugby