Tonga win has Samoa feeling full of ambition
SAMOA’S Sam Tagataese says his side has taken inspiration from Tonga’s historic victory over New Zealand ahead of their knockout clash against Australia at Marrara on Friday night.
The come-from-behind 28-22 upset at the weekend was the first time a tier-two nation had beaten either Australia, New Zealand or England in international rugby league.
“It was great that Tonga won,” Tagataese said.
“Hopefully they do well and hopefully we can do something special too (against Australia).”
The former Melbourne Storm, Gold Coast Titans and Cronulla Sharks forward said the wild scenes at Hamilton’s Waikato Stadium should inspire more players to represent their country of heritage.
“It grows confidence and encourages a lot of players around Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific boys to strive to play for their parent’s countries of birth,” Tagataese said.
Toa Samoa qualified for the quarter-finals without winning a match in Pool B.
A draw in their final game against Scotland propelled Matt Parish’s side into the knockout stage on for and against.
“It does feel strange, but we are where we are,” Tagataese said.
“Luck has turned our way in drawing that game.
“Scotland played well against us — we didn’t play too well and luckily we did get the draw and the opportunity to have another crack.”
Tagataese, who is unsigned for 2018, said controlling the ball in humid Top End conditions would be the catalyst for an improved performance.
“We haven’t been able to hold onto the ball. It doesn’t matter what team you are playing for or how good you are, if you are completing at 30 per cent you can’t win,” he said.
Samoa will have to win the forward battle to give their outside backs the best chance of causing damage, says Tagataese
“Where we can beat them is our power game and then our strengths out wide in Ricky Leutele and Joseph Leilua,” he said.