London here they come
The Barbarians have included four World Cup winners in a squad for Sunday’s clash with Samoa, in what will be the first rugby match staged at London’s Olympic Stadium.
New Zealand’s Ali Williams and Adam Thomson, as well as South Africa’s Bakkies Botha and Wynand Olivier are joined up front by Australia’s Benn Robinson.
Behind the scrum, there are four Wallabies in halfback Luke Burgess, five-eighth Mike Harris, and centres Christian Leali’ifano and Ben Tapuai.
Former Samoa fullback Paul Williams is also included in a squad totalling 545 international caps.
Williams’s father, New Zealand wing great Bryan, played against the Barbarians in what is considered to be the invitational side’s greatest match when a star-studded team beat the All Blacks 23-11 in Cardiff – a match that featured a try by legendary Wales halfback Gareth Edwards, often acclaimed as the best in rugby history.
Sunday’s match will both act as a warm-up for Samoa ahead of their involvement in the 2015 World Cup in England and allow officials a ‘dry run’ for when the Olympic Stadium stages five matches during the showpiece tournament – including the third place play-off.
Samoa begin their World Cup Pool B campaign against the United States in Brighton, on England’s south coast, with the Pacific Islanders facing South Africa, Scotland and Japan in their remaining group matches.
Backs: Luke Burgess (Zebre/AUS), Tom English (Melbourne Rebels), Nic Groom (Stormers), Mike Harris (Melbourne Rebels/AUS), Christian Leali’ifano (Brumbies/AUS), Taqele Naiyaravoro (Glasgow), Wynand Olivier (Montpellier/RSA), Dom Shipperley (Melbourne Rebels), Dwayne Sweeney (Munakata Sanix Blues), Ben Tapuai (Western Force/AUS), Paul Williams (Stade Francais/SAM)
Forwards: Bakkies Botha (RSA), Saia Fainga’a (Queensland Reds/AUS), Liam Gill (Queensland Reds/AUS), Carl Hayman (NZL), Joshua Hohneck (Highlanders), Luke Jones (Melbourne Rebels), Tolu Latu (Waratahs), Jacques Potgeiter (Munakata Sanix Blues/RSA), Benn Robinson (Waratahs/AUS), Pierre Spies (Blue Bulls/RSA), Adam Thomson (Queensland Reds/NZL), Kyle Traynor (Bristol/SCO), Maks van Dyke (Cheetahs), Ali Williams (NZL)