YAMAGATA, 16 Sep – Just over a week after a knock from a team-mate damaged his eye, Samoa's Jack Lam has fully recovered his sight.
In his team's final warm-up match against Australia on 7 September, the Manu Samoa captain took a blow from Alapati Leiua during a tackle. He had to leave the field, fearing that his participation at a second World Cup could be in danger.
"I was seeing about 30 different Wallabies players at the time, so I was a bit of a liability to my team. I had to make a call and come off the field," Lam said.
"Coming off injured is always a bit of a scare but I had my eye scanned and it was all clear."
#AUSvSAM | Thank you to all our Manu Samoa supporters who turned up at Bankwest Stadium last night. Seen here: Captains David Pocock & Jack Lam, and with supporters are: Josh Tyrell, Vaito'asa Senio Toleafoa & Afaesetiti Amosa. Fa'afetai tele mo le tapua'iga #GoTheManu pic.twitter.com/bnOZWiofZW— Go the Manu (@gothemanu2011) September 8, 2019
Samoa are in Yamagata preparing for their first match against Russia on 24 September. At a local welcome ceremony on Monday, the 31-year-old flanker still had a red spot on his eye – a reminder that Leiua owes him a beer.
"We are still friends," Lam said of Leiua, who was also his team-mate at English club Bristol Bears for the past two seasons.
"We didn't know it (was Leiua) until we saw it on the replay. Then I told him he owed me a cold one."
Samoa are ranked 16th in the world, and have not qualified from the pool stage in their last four World Cup appearances. The Pacific Islanders recorded their best World Cup performances in 1991 and 1995, when they reached the quarter-finals. Lam believes Manu Samoa can do better at Rugby World Cup 2019.
"It's every team's goal to win the World Cup," he said.
"There's plenty of excitement in the team, and that goes back quite a bit. We have been building quite nicely going into our first game and we can't wait to get things kicked off."