#RWC2019: ‘Scotland’s tackle comments spur us on,’ says Samoan coach

Vaeluaga Steve Jackson is frustrated by the suspensions and the way his tough-tacklling team has been portrayed

Samoa play Scotand in Kobe tomorrow. Image: ©Fotosport/David Gibson
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DISGRUNTLED Samoan coach Vaeluaga Steve Jackson says that his team will not be put off their game by comments made to the press by the Scotland squad regarding his team’s tackling style.

Two Samoan players – hooker Motu Matu’u and centre Rey Lee-Lo – will miss tomorrow’s World Cup Pool A clash against Scotland at the Kobe Misaki Stadium after picking up match suspensions for dangerous tackles in the team’s tournament opener against Russia.

Earlier this week, Scotland scrum-half Greig Laidlaw called on match Pascal Gauzere to keep an eye out for high tackles by Samoa, and Jackson says that this has helped motivate his team.

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“We know that there’s been things put to the media by people in the Scottish squad around talking to the referees about tackles and all that sort of stuff. Thanks for doing that because that just motivates our players a lot more,” he said.

“We’re going out there with the same mindset, the same attitude, the same commitment to the script, and we’ll see what happens.”

Jackson then suggested that his players had been harshly treated when compared to the punishment meted out to USA flanker John Quill following his red-carded challenge on England’s Owen Farrell on Thursday.

“If you look at the USA tackle and our two tackles, (they are) completely different, but exactly the same outcome – and he admitted it,” said the New Zealand-born coach. “We’ve been given (bans of) the same amount of time, but a completely different tackle to another person.”

“It’s certainly been a motivation for us to go out there as a group and do a job on Monday. There’s obviously been a lot in the press, people making things a little bit worse than what they already were before the hearing, there’s obviously a standard that has been set by the panel.”

While the loss Matu’u and Lee-Lo is a double blow to Samoa, they are boosted by the return from injury of flanker Piula Faasalele and captain Jack Lam.

“He (Faasalele) had an extremely bad break eight weeks ago when he ruptured his arm and he’s worked unbelievably hard to get himself back. We had a conversation and the surgeons said that ‘he’s gone’, that it’d be touch and go with him. He told me he’d be fine – and that’s all I needed,” said Jackson

“We’re talking about two guys with the highest pain tolerance in the world. To have the captain back has just lifted the team and the man beside me (Faasalele) playing has just lifted the guys again. He offers such experience, energy and excitement when he comes on the field. We’ve been trying to hold him back for the last four to five weeks just to make sure that he sticks to the plan.”

Jackson added the Samoa have been inspired by host nation Japan’s sensational win over Ireland on Saturday.

“I take my hat off to them and it was great to watch and, like any other team, we were almost cheering,” he said. “It was a fantastic atmosphere and this Rugby World Cup here in Japan has been amazing.

“We watched the game yesterday and it’s fantastic, isn’t it? An upset in the Rugby World Cup. Now we will focus on Scotland and, if it goes the way we hope, it’ll be another upset there. It just goes to show that you’ve got to turn up on the day and play a game of 80 minutes.”

Meanwhile, assistant coach Alistair Rogers stressed that Samoa are committed to keeping their tackling on the right side of the law.

“We spend a lot of time on tackle technique, we coach the micro detail of the tackle, and let’s be clear, as far as the outcome we felt it was dealt with correctly [by the referee on the pitch] at the time,” he said ‘Obviously, the panel thinks differently and what’s very difficult in today’s game there’s a lot line speed, but that’s the current climate and we’ve just got to keep working on that skill.

“I just want to make very, very clear that we teach that and coach that every day. These two players particularly spend a lot of time with it.”

“I’ve contacted Alain Rolland [former referee and World Rugby’s high performance manager for match officials] and I’m waiting for him to come back to me because, as a defensive coach, it’s paramount for me to know what we can do better.”

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About David Barnes 3891 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including he Herald/Sunday Herald, The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Scotsman/Scotland on Sunday/Evening News, The Daily Record, The Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday and The Sun.