Samoa coach Stephen Betham names team for match against Japan

Their most experienced test side ever is selected to face Brave Blossoms at Stadium MK on Saturday

MILTON KEYNES, 1 Oct - Samoa head coach Stephen Betham has named his starting XV for the Pool B match against Japan at Stadium MK on Saturday. 

Samoa have named their most-capped RWC team ever for the game, with a starting line-up boasting 346 caps. The cap number beats the 316 total Samoa's starting XV had in their final pool match against South Africa at RWC 2011.

The team is also Samoa's second-oldest RWC starting XV with an average age of 30 years 331 days, just below their oldest (and the RWC's oldest ever at 31 years 4 days), which started the 25-16 opening-match win over USA at RWC 2015.

They have made five changes to the line-up that started the previous match against South Africa with Johnny Leota, Tusi Pisi, Fafili Levave, Kane Thompson and Ole Avei all named in the run-on team.

Leota makes his RWC debut, while Kane Thompson plays for the first time at RWC 2015 after serving a two-match ban for striking Australia's Saia Fainga'a in the 27-24 defeat by the Barbarians at London's Olympic stadium on 29 August. Thompson already has eight RWC appearances from 2007 and 2011.

Tim Nanai-Williams, Ken Pisi, Paul Perez and Filo Paulo all start their third matches at RWC 2015, while Census Johnston and Alesana Tuilagi move into the group of players on 11 RWC appearances who sit behind Samoa record-holder Brian Lima (18).

Tusi Pisi - who plays rugby in Japan for Suntory Sungoliath - did not score a point in his only previous test appearance against Japan, but needs just 17 points to overtake Earl Va'a (174) as Samoa’s highest-scoring test player.

The third of the record-setting trio of Pisi brothers, George, is not in the match-day 23.

SAMOA

1. Sakaria Taulafo
2. Ole Avei
3. Census Johnston
4. Teofilo Paulo
5. Kane Thompson
6. Ofisa Treviranus (captain)
7. TJ Ioane 
8. Faifili Levave 
9. Kahn Fotuali'i
10. Tusi Pisi
11. Alesana Tuilagi
12. Johnny Leota 
13. Paul Perez
14. Ken Pisi
15. Tim Nanai-Williams

Replacements

16. Motu Matu'u
17. Viliamu Afatia
18. Anthony Perenise
19. Jack Lam
20. Vavae Tuilagi 
21. Vavao Afemai 
22. Mike Stanley
23. Rey Lee-Lo 

RNS tpc/sw