The captains of Pool A: Samoa – Ivan Fepuleai, England – Zach Mercer, Australia – Reece Hewat, Wales – Will Jones.
Martkopi, GEORGIA – TUESDAY 30 MAY 2017: Ahead of the Manu Samoa Under 20s first match of the World Cup against champions England tomorrow afternoon at 1pm at Avachala Stadium, Team Manager, Ulu Maluofinao Shinn Ete reports that Aneriueta PIOPA got injured at training yesterday (foot) and he is ruled out of this game. He is replaced on bench by Tagaloa Fonoti. Apart from that Ulu also reports that the team is in good spirit and more focused now.
“Talofa from Martkopi Village here in Georgia, and with the World Rugby U20 World Cup Tournament about to kick off in Georgia this Wednesday, May 18, in the opening game where Samoa plays against the defending Champions England, the team has been received and treated with respect by the locals in Georgia.
“That respect and popularity was the result of the Manu Samoa Tour in Georgia last year. Locals speak highly of Manu Samoa team, and commented that it is the best team they ever hosted.
For example, we were on a city sightseeing on Saturday afternoon after our training, and the Georgians in the city requested to have time to talk to the Samoa team, they run to tell their stories the Manu Tour last year, and ask to take pictures with the team. Such encouraging comments, feedback and positive attitude of the Georgian people towards a team from a small island nation give us pride of our Manu Samoa.
“The U20 is settling well here at Martkopi village Sports Facilities, located about 60 km from Tblisi city. We are very fortunate to be hosted in these sporting facilities, and the team has all it offers to ourselves, a gym, and great rugby fields and accommodation.
“Yesterday after the morning training, some of the management and the Captain attended some meetings at the World Rugby temporary base at Biltmore Hotel in the City. Again Manu Samoa was the talk by locals and team management staff from England, Wales, Australia and South Africa. They all love and have great memories of Manu Samoa players’ previous tours, and the love the Samoan players playing in Clubs in their countries.
“The team is in high spirits, focused, and looking forward to their first game of the World Cup, and taking a game at a time.
“Samoa is in a Pool A with England, Australia and Wales. Samoa plays England on Wednesday afternoon at 1.00 pm, (Georgian time).
“Surely Rugby as our national sport has placed Samoa in the world map, and we have to appreciate and thank all those who wore the Manu Samoa Blue jersey. Well done Manu Samoa…. and Manu Samoa is a popular brand in this part of the world.
“Regards from Martkopi Village Sports Facilities in Georgia.”
ULU Maluofinao Shinn Ete.
Manu Samoa U20 Team Manager
Editors Note: We will bring you updates from Team Manager as they come to hand.