KOBE, Japan (Reuters) – Loose forward Jack Lam has returned to captain a Samoa side missing four players through injury and suspension in their Pool A clash against Scotland in Kobe on Monday, a match that could go a long way in determining the quarter-final spots.
Lam missed the opening 34-9 victory over Russia on Tuesday but returns at number eight for Afaesetiti Amosa, who ruptured knee ligaments in a bad tackle while scoring his side’s second try in Kumagaya.
Chris Vui, who led the side against Russia, has been retained as blindside flanker but handed the captain’s armband to Lam.
Scrumhalf Melani Matavao has also come into the starting side after Dwayne Polataivao failed a head injury assessment during the game and did not recover in time to be considered for the Scotland match.
Samoa coach Steve Jackson also brought in Ray Niuia to start the game at hooker after Motu Matu’u was suspended for three matches for a high tackle during the Russia match.
Matu’u was shown a yellow card in that game but also failed a head injury assessment during the tackle and his suspension does not start until he has been cleared to play again.
The versatile Alapati Leiua, who scored two tries against Russia on the right wing, has moved into centre to replace the suspended Rey Lee-lo.
Lee-lo was also given a three-match ban for a high tackle in the Russia game.
Winger Belgium Tuatagaloa, who chose to represent Samoa at the tournament rather than take up a new club contract in France, will make his World Cup debut in place of Leiua.
Ireland are strongly expected to advance as the winners of Pool A after they comfortably beat Scotland last week.
Scotland, Samoa and hosts Japan are expected to battle for the second quarter-final spot, where they are likely to face the All Blacks in the last eight.
Team: 15-Tim Nanai-Williams, 14-Belgium Tuatagaloa, 13-Alapati Leiua, 12-Henry Taefu, 11-Ed Fidow, 10-Tusi Pisi, 9-Melani Matavao, 8-Jack Lam (captain), 7-TJ Ioane, 6-Chris Vui, 5-Kane Le’aupepe, 4-Teofilo Paulo, 3-Michael Alaalatoa, 2-Ray Niuia, 1-Logovii Mulipola
Replacements: 16-Seilala Lam, 17-Paul Alo-Emile, 18-Jordan Lay, 19-Piula Faasalele, 20-Josh Tyrell, 21-Pele Cowley, 22-Ulupano Seuteni, 23-Kieron Fonotia
(Reporting by Greg Stutchbury in Oita; Editing by Sudipto Ganguly)