Germany coach Pablo Lemoine has challenged his players to win the second leg of their Rugby World Cup 2019 play-off against Samoa in order to provide momentum for their repechage campaign.
The hosts’ hopes of securing a place in Pool A alongside Ireland, hosts Japan, Russia and Scotland look forlorn following a 66-15 defeat in Apia a fortnight ago. But while Samoa have arrived in Heidelberg expected to rubber stamp their ticket to Japan, Germany still have plenty to play for.
Defeat will not mark the end of their journey towards the Rugby World Cup, as the loser of this tie will compete in November’s repechage tournament in Marseille - against Canada, Hong Kong and the Rugby Africa Gold Cup 2018 runner-up - for a place in Pool B next September.
Following a period of instability, victory on Saturday would give Germany hope that their dream can be realised in the south of France.
The final spot in Pool A at Rugby World Cup 2019 will be decided on Saturday as @DRVRugby host @manusamoa in the second leg of their play-off.— Rugby World Cup (@rugbyworldcup) July 11, 2018
Samoa lead 66-15 on aggregate after leg one in Apia.
Kick off at 1600hrs GMT+2
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“We talked with the boys, we need to win,” Lemoine said. “We know that qualification is impossible or really difficult but we know we can win that game.
“We can play to win, and show ourselves that we can play much better (than in Apia) and in November we can qualify, because that’s important.
“All these guys have made a big effort to be here, definitely it’s because they want to be part of the next World Cup. We are really lucky because we have another chance in November, and that’s the main point for us.
“To have a result to really put it in our head that we are ready for the World Cup.”
Despite competing with their hosts for spells in Apia, Germany made the long trip home from Samoa disappointed by aspects of their defensive display and are determined to put it right on Saturday.
“Definitely we were not prepared for that level,” Lemoine said. “We’ve never been so exposed, to play an away game against Samoa and especially a Samoa with a lot of pressure to win. Because that’s part of the context, that’s part of the game.
“It’s not the same to play a friendly game against Samoa than play a game to qualify for the World Cup.”
Ringing the changes
Lemoine and Kobus Potgieter have rung the changes to the side that lost the first leg. Centre Steffen Liebig has failed to recover from injury and is replaced by Mathieu Dacau.
Elsewhere in the backs, Hagen Schulte returns at fly-half with Christopher Hilsenbeck switching to full-back, while Marcel Coetzee has moved to the left wing to accommodate Rafael Pyrasch on the right. Up front, Mark Fairhurst is given the nod at hooker and Jarrid Els returns to the back row, as Sebastian Ferreira shifts from number eight to blindside flanker.
Samoa, meanwhile, have named a new second-row partnership of Joe Tekori and Brandon Nansen after Josh Tyrrell and Piula Fa’asalele failed to recover from injury, while captain Chris Vui has moved into the back-row.
Behind the scrum, Patrick Faapale has taken over playmaking duties from Tusi Pisi, who has moved into the centres due to Alapati Leuia’s absence.
Samoa coach Titimaea Tafua has also included several fresh faces on the bench, including Harlequins back-row Mat Luamanu and rugby league convert Ionatana Tino. However, Lemoine does not expect the visitors to take their foot off the gas with potential Rugby World Cup places up for grabs.
“Don’t forget Samoa from now until the next World Cup, they have only three games in November plus three games in June and that’s it. I don’t think they’ll waste an opportunity,” he said.
“If was a Samoan player I would give 100 per cent to convince my coaches that I’m ready for the next World Cup.”