Samoa coach Seilala Mapusua implored rugby’s governing bodies to change the global calender as his side prepare to take on Argentina at the World Cup on Friday.
The match in Saint Etienne will be only Samoa’s third against a Tier 1 nation in four years.
Since crashing out of the group stages at the last World Cup in Japan, Samoa have played only 12 matches, less than a third of the number played by the elite Tier 1 nations.
Half of those matches were against fellow Pacific Islanders Tonga and Fiji and only two, including their last World Cup warm-up – a narrow 17-13 defeat to world No 1 side Ireland – were against Tier 1 nations.
“We’re expected to come to the pinnacle of our sport and compete and be competitive and this is on the back of two games against a Tier 1 nation in the span of four years, and one of them being on the eve of Rugby World Cup,” said Mapusua.
“This model definitely needs to be looked at, especially from our perspective. We need more meaningful games and competitive games so we can assemble our best and keep developing as a team.”
Samoa have not beaten a Tier 1 nation since 2014.
Nevertheless, Mapusua said the Manu Samoa would take inspiration from Fiji, who toppled Australia 22-15 on Sunday, their first victory over the Wallabies in 69 years.
And that despite facing the same challenges as Samoa.
“It’s awesome to see them perform well and beat Australia at a World Cup and we’re proud of them and of course we’ll take inspiration and confidence from that one,” he said.
“But I’d be more inclined to take confidence from the work and preparation that this group of men have done over the last few months.”
GLAD CHEIKA ‘NOT PLAYING’
Samoa actually boast a record of three wins from four matches against Argentina, who have former Australia head coach Michael Cheika at the helm.
Cheika, who was a grizzled No 8 in his playing days, coached Samoa fly-half Christian Leali’ifano during his Wallaby days, before he switched allegiances to the team of his family origins ahead of this World Cup.
Leali’ifano said he was “excited” at the prospect not just of coming up against his old coach but also of playing the Pumas.
“Just the challenge that lays ahead of this team and this group, to play a Tier 1 nation that historically do really well in the World Cup,” he said.
“So we’re really excited and I’m glad he’s not playing,” quipped the 35-year-old, who kicked 16 points as Samoa started their Pool D campaign with a 43-10 win over minnows Chile.
A defeat would likely spell the end of their chances of reaching the knock-out stages.
Argentina captain Juan Montoya admitted his side were under pressure after losing their opening match 27-10 to England, and with a huge pack awaiting them.
“We expect a very physical match from them,” said the hooker.
“We are in a World Cup and the mentality we have is to look at what we have to win.” – SuperSport.