Samoans claim underdog tag for Tonga clash

Herman Ese'ese of Samoa makes a run in last weekend's Rugby League World Cup match against New Zealand.
Herman Ese'ese of Samoa makes a run in last weekend's Rugby League World Cup match against New Zealand. Anthony Au-Yeung

SAMOA prop Herman Ese'ese says all the pressure is on Pacific rival Tonga when the two do battle in Auckland on Saturday night in the Rugby League World Cup.

The Tongans, including Australia and New Zealand defectors Andrew Fifita and Jason Taumalolo, sent out a warning with a 50-4 thrashing of Scotland in their opening game last week.

Samoa, on the other hand, capitulated against New Zealand, losing 38-8 after trailing just 10-4 at half-time.

Ese'ese, who will join the Newcastle Knights next season after leaving the Brisbane Broncos, said his team was definitely the underdog.

"There's no spotlight on us," he said.

"We're just sticking together as a tight group, as a team. We're not putting anyone else in front of us.

"We're just gonna worry about ourselves, keep turning up for each other and hopefully we do that on Saturday night."

Samoa's assistant coach Sean Long, a former World Cup star for England, said the players needed to up their game if they were to cause an upset.

"You can't win a football game completing at 15 per cent in the second half, it doesn't matter who you're playing," he said.

"You could play against under-15s and they'll beat you. We know what we can do, and we know where to sort it - it doesn't take a rocket scientist to sort that one out."

Tonga haven't beaten Samoa since 2013, but as well as Taumalolo and Fifita, they also boast NRL stars Will Hopoate, Daniel Tupou, Michael Jennings and Konrad Hurrell.

Topics:  herman ese'ese rlwc

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