Coach says Samoa will be under-prepared for World Cup opener against England

Coach says Samoa will be under-prepared for World Cup opener against England

Samoa coach Matt Parish admits his team will be under-prepared for their opening World Cup game against England in Newcastle on Saturday.

England coach Shaun Wane has labelled the Pacific Islanders favourites for the game at St James’ Park and the bookmakers agree but Parish insists the odds are stacked against his side and says he is more concerned with the finish than the start of the tournament.

“The one on the 19th of November is probably a bit more important than this one but they’re all important, they’re World Cup games,” Parish said at the launch of the tournament at the Manchester Museum of Science and Industry.

“I’m confident we’re going to get better as the competition goes on.”

While Wane has had contact with the bulk of his squad throughout the year and has had the benefit of two warm-up games, one against Fiji only last Friday, Parish says his squad has only just come together.

“We’re under-done for the first game,” he said. “England played a trial match while our boys were all on a plane.

“We had our first session this morning with our squad, we’ll have two more sessions this week and then we’ve got to play the opening World Cup game.

“I’ve no doubt we will play well.”

Like Tonga before them, Samoa have been boosted by the defection of players who were set to play for tier one nations.

“It’s very pleasing and humbling that they have chosen Samoa,” Parish said. “They realise there’s a group of young people that can do something. We’ve a very young squad but very exciting too.

“If you look at the teams that are competing, it’s by far the strongest World Cup ever, the most even, and it’s exciting to be part of. We’ve got some confidence but got some work to do to.

“It’s a big occasion and we need to rise to it. I’ve got no doubt they will. A lot of our boys have played in Grand Finals, we’ve got some young boys too, I’m confident with the players and the staff we’ve got.”

Eight members of Parish’s 24-strong squad played in the NRL Grand Final eight days ago, including half-back Jarome Luai and winger Brian To’o who were set to be included in Australia coach Mal Meninga’s World Cup squad, and the coach confirmed they will face England.

“We had our first session this morning and they trained well,” Parish said. “We need to get some connection with our team and find some continuity, from that point of view we’re a bit rusty but our goal is to peak further down the tournament, not on Saturday.

Parish says he not yet watched England’s 50-0 win over Fiji but is expecting a physical test from Wane’s men.

“I’ve already read several articles where they’re going to come out and bash us,” he said.

“It’s going to be tough and very physical in the middle. They’re a proud nation, they’re playing at home, they’ve got a coach that’s won many championships over here and the captain is one of the world’s best players, it’s going to be tough.”

Asked if his side are prepared to be equally physical, Parish said: “We want to play footy, we don’t want to bash anyone.”

Parish will have no shortage of inside information of Saturday’s opponents, with Castleford coach Lee Radford joining his extensive backroom team.

“He’s been great,” Parish said. “Richard Agar is still in contact with us and he’s unreal.

“We’ve got some English influence with us but the players have got to get out there and play well.”