Big Asofa-Solomona sparkles on debut
One of the successes of the Kiwis’ 38-8 win over Saturday night was that they were able to blood four new players for what lies ahead.
Brad Takairangi, Nelson AsofaSolomona, Isaac Liu and Danny Levi all got to make their test debuts in what ended up being a comfortable victory for New Zealand.
With big games coming up, particularly a potential semifinal showdown against England, getting these players up to speed was important as the Kiwis go through the pool stage of the World Cup.
Particularly impressive was Asofa-Solomona from the Storm.
Without Jason Taumalolo, the Kiwis need a big forward who can smash his way up field and AsofaSolomona is just that, carrying the ball for an impressive 180 metres during his 41 minutes on the field.
Only fullback Roger TuivasaSheck, with 202 metres, made more ground than Asofa-Solomona.
He also scored a try in the 72nd minute, so as debuts go, it wasn’t a bad one.
‘‘It felt really good to put the jersey on with the boys and to get the result was the icing on the cake,’’ Asofa-Solomona said.
‘‘It’s an honour to represent your country. It’s second to none, you’ve got club level and then this is the pinnacle for us.’’
The Wellington born 21-year-old made a strong run from his first touch of the ball, coming on for Martin Taupau in the 14th minute and Asofa-Solomona said his plan was to make an impact as soon as possible.
‘‘For every bench player that’s the job,’’ he said.
‘‘We’re called sparkies, because you’re supposed to come on and spark up the game for the boys.’’
‘‘Not just go through the motions, but to try to make a difference and that’s what I tried to do.’’
Despite Asofa-Solomona’s strong presence, it was until the second half where the Kiwis were able to show their dominance.
So what changed between the two 40-minute periods?
‘‘We made a lot of errors in the first half and we limited that in the second half,’’ Asofa-Solomona said.
‘‘That really helped us get on the front foot and we starved Samoa of possession, which helped us and I felt like we did that better in the second half.
‘‘It’s our first game, so it’s always going to be a bit rusty. We’re going to have to look at the video and see the little things we can improve on.’’