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Samoa wary of Irish passion

By Adrian Warren 04/11/2008 12:47:12 PM Comments (0)

Samoa captain Nigel Vagana is wary of underdog Ireland's passion going into their important rugby league World Cup pool match.

Only the winner of the tournament's most competitive pool - Samoa, Ireland and Tonga - can advance to the semi-final qualifying match.

All three are still in the running heading into Wednesday night's Parramatta Stadium clash.

Samoa has a superior for and against differential, but Ireland will leap above them if they win by six or more points.

While Samoa will start favourite, skipper Nigel Vagana expects Ireland to produce another spirited performance after the Wolfhounds went close to toppling Tonga last week.

"A lot of people would have expected the Tongans to have an easy game and the Irish showed that they are here to play and we are expecting a very tough game," Vagana said.

While Samoa coach John Ackland didn't expect his players to have any trouble lifting again following the hype and short turnaround from their victory over arch-rival Tonga on Friday, Vagana admitted it could be "a little bit difficult".

"It's pretty hard when you go from one game to another and there's a lot of expectation on the first," Vagana said.

"But the boys are all professional and we've talked about it.

Ireland coach Andy Kelly wasn't getting carried away about the possibility of his team causing a huge boilover.

"That's the final outcome, there's a lot of process to go through before we start looking at the scoreboard," Kelly said.

"We've got to break the Samoans down. John Ackland has them very well organised and I think they are probably a little bit more structured than the Tongan players."

While Ireland had over a week to recover from their match against Tonga, Kelly wasn't sure whether Samoa's quick turnaround from last Friday would be a major factor Wednesday.

"I don't know whether it will hinder or help the Samoans," Kelly said.

"If there is any fatigue in there, we'll try and eke it out, but we've got to plan for them to play with the same kind of energy as if they had the same rest as us.

"If we do that, we just might find that their tank is a little bit less on the full side than it might have been if they'd had eight or nine days (rest)."

Kelly joined the Tongan and Samoan camps in calling for the developing league nations to play more international fixtures.

"The game at international level probably needs to expand a little bit and help Samoa, Tonga and Ireland play more fixtures outside a World Cup environment, so when we come into these games we can compete.

"It would be nice to have tours, Tonga and Samoa sides over in America and Ireland as well.

"After you get stronger you could come over to the British Isles and get invaluable experience on a tour like that and exposure.

"And if Ireland were able to get the credibility we could carry out tours to what I call to the southern hemisphere traditional rugby league country grounds, I think it would serve its purpose."

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