Samoan sets his sights on the Kiwis
WESTERN Samoan captain Danny Kaleopa has a score to settle against New Zealand.
Kaleopa has spent the last 12 months itching for revenge against the New Zealanders after they beat the Samoans in the controversial quarter-final match in Hongkong.
Samoa, the team everyone wants to avoid in the Cup competition, were leading New Zealand in the first half and had expected to change ends with a huge psychological advantage.
But in quagmire conditions, the referee played on almost three minutes after the hooter sounded, allowing New Zealand to score and take the advantage, which they held on to.
Said Kaleopa: ''Last year was a real disappointment. Personally, I was really upset by what the referee did.
''We were doing well but the referee kept playing on after the hooter sounded. I even asked him when the half was going to stop but he just told me to go away.
''So if we do play New Zealand, we will have something to pay back.'' Western Samoa are expected to meet New Zealand in the semi-finals of the Cup.
The referee was highly-respected Welshman Les Peard, who confused free-kicks with scrums.
Because of a flooded pitch, scrums were banned for safety reasons and replaced by free-kicks.
Play cannot be stopped while a free-kick move is taking place, and Peard should have treated as scrums the many free-kicks awarded to New Zealand, from which they eventually scored.
Peard was subsequently ''fined'' several pints of beer by his fellow referees, but that was little compensation for a Samoan side whose promise of glory was cruelly taken away from them.
The Samoans have stirred the imagination of fans in the build-up to the Sevens, both on and off the field.
Off the field, they lost the hard-tackling Junior Paramore to New Zealand, while Lolani Koko left the All Blacks to join Samoa.
On the field, a Western Samoan team displayed their brilliance by winning the Canberra Sevens, but then came crashing back down to earth with a disappointing performance at last week's Fiji Sevens.
But Kaleopa said to disregard those performances totally as it was a totally different side.
''The squad in Hongkong did not take part in Canberra or Fiji, so whatever they achieved will have no effect on this tournament,'' he said.
''We have been preparing in Auckland, New Zealand for the tournament.'' Western Samoa's best performance at the Hongkong Sevens was in 1979 when they were beaten 39-3 in the final by Australia.
That remains a record for the biggest win in a final in the tournament.
But their most memorable match was in 1984 when they scored a stunning 13-4 quarter-final victory over Fiji.
They once again bring to Hongkong a powerful side coached by Taufusi Salesa, an experienced former Hongkong Sevens player.
Wellington players Junior Tonuu and Alama Ieremia join the popular Brian Lima in a 10-man side to play Japan and Thailand in the preliminary matches.
The squad is completed by Veli Patu, Alefaio Vaisuai, Sila Vaifale, Filipo Saena and Anetelea Aiolupo.