Samoans soak up soggy conditions

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 25 March, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 25 March, 2009, 12:00am

Stormy weather may have kept a few teams indoors yesterday morning, but it didn't bother the Samoan side with coach Rudy Moors even conducting their training in bare feet.

Despite the soggy conditions, Moors put his charges through their paces free of any footwear, but the coach was still looking at the heavens after the session. With rain forecast for Sunday, he knows this kind of weather can affect his side's chances of glory.

'It'll make the game a lot harder if it rains,' Moors said. 'The skill level must rise dramatically in wet conditions - the team with the best ball skills will win. But we've had some rain in Samoa and the guys will be used to it. Whatever the conditions, we'll be looking to keep the ball and play with consistency.'

The Samoans will have 10 of the squad that competed in the World Cup Sevens in Dubai this month, where they were beaten 19-12 in the semi-finals by eventual winners Wales.

It was a loss that still rankles with Moors.

'Losing to Wales was a big disappointment,' he said. 'We rushed our final pass and at times lacked some composure. It was a tough defeat but I think we have learned from it and we want to build on those performances here.

'We need to be more patient, not panic and play with control. The players are keen and focused so we're confident we can put in some good performances.

'The World Cup is over and done with. Now we must concentrate on doing well in Hong Kong.'

In Dubai, the Pacific Islanders beat England 31-26 in a tense quarter-final that went to sudden death extra time, and Moors believes that with the Welsh missing a number of players from their World Cup-winning squad, the English will be the team to beat.

'England have a very strong, fast side,' he said. 'They have been playing well all season. They'll also get a lot of support in Hong Kong so I'd say they are favourites.'

Two years ago Samoa beat old rivals Fiji 27-22 in the final, while last year they were beaten 12-10 by South Africa in the semis.

'We've done well in Hong Kong in recent years and we want to keep that going,' said playmaker Uale Mai. 'It'll be tough because Fiji are in the same pool as us and they are always hard to beat, but we're confident.'

Samoa will play in pool E with Fiji, Canada and Taiwan.