Vulnerable Kiwis look to return to glory days
Played five, won one, lost four. That is the sorry record New Zealand have against Samoa this season. But Kiwi skipper DJ Forbes laughs aside any suggestions the uncompromising islanders are a bogey side.
'In all fairness Samoa have played well, but in honesty, in a couple of finals where we met them, our boys didn't do well,' said Forbes.
'We began the season well by winning in Dubai and George, but haven't had the rub of the green since in a few close matches. It was especially disappointing last week in Adelaide,' said Forbes, referring to their loss to Samoa in the Cup quarter-finals.
After losing at the death to Samoa when down to six men, the Kiwis bounced back by winning the Plate, defeating South Africa and Fiji.
'The boys still managed to play some good rugby. We had a good shot at Samoa but were unlucky at the end. We have to play error-free rugby and make sure we don't give away penalties at the ruck. Our time will come.'
Forbes and New Zealand will be hoping their time comes on Sunday. The influential forward is appearing for the fifth time in Hong Kong, but has only won once - in 2008 - and is desperate to lead the side to victory again.
New Zealand, who are pooled with Scotland, France and Taiwan, lead Samoa by a slender two-point margin with just three legs of the IRB series left - Hong Kong and then the last two events in England and Scotland.
'Winning Hong Kong will be crucial to our chances of winning the IRB Series,' Forbes said. 'But we haven't had too much success here. I have only won once here and a lot of the boys are keen to win. They don't need any inspiration to win.'
Last year the Kiwis suffered the ignominy of being knocked out for the first time in the Cup quarter-finals when they lost to Kenya.