Steve Jackson is confident the suspensions of Rey Lee-Lo and Motu Matu’u will merely count as motivation for Samoa as their Rugby World Cup campaign continues against Scotland.
Samoa began with a big bonus-point win over Russia in their opener, but they were later hit by three-match bans for centre Lee-Lo and hooker Matu’u.
Both players had been sent to the sin bin for dangerous tackles before seeing their punishments upgraded to red cards in subsequent hearings.
Coach Jackson said: “Both cases we thought were dealt with on-field. They obviously didn’t go there intending to make contact anywhere above from where the ball is.”
He added: “Do we accept the sanction? Yes, we do. Do we agree with it? No, we don’t.”
But Jackson is hoping there can still be a positive outcome for Samoa following the suspensions, with the team determined to get to the quarter-finals in order to welcome back their colleagues.
Given Japan’s shock win over Ireland on Saturday, victory against Scotland is necessary in order to realistically maintain hopes of progression.
“They are extremely motivated, probably even more motivated now after losing a couple of their team-mates,” said Jackson.
“The 23 that will be going out there on Monday won’t only play for themselves and for their families but also for a couple of guys in the group who’ve had a trying couple of days.
“That’s weighed heavily on their shoulders but we’ve managed to pick them up. They’ll remain with the group and this group is highly motivated to get out of pool play so that those two can play again.”
Samoa have at least been able to welcome back captain Jack Lam, who returns at number eight in place of the injured Afaesetiti Amosa.
Here is your Scotland team to face Samoa in their second #RWC2019 Test in Kobe!
— Scottish Rugby (@Scotlandteam) September 28, 2019
Meanwhile, Scotland have made five changes to their side beaten by Ireland, with Magnus Bradbury, called into the squad to replace the injured Hamish Watson, brought straight into the side.
Coach Gregor Townsend, like Jackson, acknowledges the need for a result after Scotland were beaten by Ireland in their opener, saying: “It’s been a long week building towards a game where we intend to put a lot of things right.
“The reality is we now have to win our next three games to make it out of our pool, so the knockout stages for us begin this Monday night.”
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Scotland – Jamie Ritchie
Along with Bradbury, Ritchie is another man to benefit from Watson’s absence. He comes into the team onto the openside, having impressed during the Six Nations. A head injury kept him out of the thrilling conclusion to that campaign at Twickenham and he will be determined to seize his opportunity on the big stage this time.
Samoa – Ed Fidow
Wing Fidow has been outstanding for Samoa since making his international debut last year, scoring eight tries in eight matches heading into the World Cup. He was not selected for the Pacific Nations Cup but, if anything, looked better for the opportunity to work on his fitness as he flew out of the blocks against Russia, adding another pair to his tally.
KEY OPTA FACTS
– Samoa have won just one of 11 previous meetings with Scotland (D1, L9), with that victory coming in Durban in 2013.
– This will be the fourth Rugby World Cup meeting between Scotland and Samoa. Scotland won the previous three matches, including an encounter at the 2015 tournament where they trailed at half-time.
– Samoa are looking for back-to-back World Cup victories for the first time since winning their final match of the 2007 tournament (v United States) and their opening match of the 2011 campaign (v Namibia).
– Scotland have lost their last two Rugby World Cup matches – they have not lost more consecutive matches at the tournament since a three-match span across the 1995 and 1999 finals.
– And they have failed to score a try in four of their past nine World Cup games. Since the start of the 2011 tournament, no side has failed to score a try more often than this.
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