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Manu Samoa look to lay foundations

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 15/06/2017 Robert Lowe

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Underdogs Samoa want to walk away from Eden Park and a meeting with the world champion All Blacks with their heads held high.

But coach Alama Ieremia and his players also have their eye on further challenges beyond Friday night.

While the match is the All Blacks' one and only hit-out before their three-Test series against the British and Irish Lions, Samoa also have a big month coming up.

They host Wales in Apia next week before facing Tonga and Fiji in the Pacfiic Nations Cup, which doubles as World Cup qualifying.

Ieremia says the performance against the All Blacks will give a gauge on how his squad are travelling.

"We need to find out where we are in the context of a big July qualification period for us," he said.

"We've had certain areas we've focused on. To come out of this and have answers to those areas would be a huge success for us."

Ieremia has named an experienced team comprised almost entirely of European-based players.

Tim Nanai-Williams © Getty Images Tim Nanai-Williams Only Chiefs utility Tim Nanai-Williams, who will start on the left-wing, plies his trade in New Zealand.

There are three new caps - former Crusaders midfield back Kieron Fonotia in the No. 13 jersey, and halfback Auvasa Falealii and prop Paul Alo-Emile on the bench.

Ieremia, who played Test rugby for both Samoa and New Zealand, is aware of the challenge his charges will face against a formidable-looking opposition line-up.

"The All Blacks are the All Blacks - they're very good at picking any weaknesses anywhere," he said.

"We pretty much know that if we're not accurate and we don't get it right, then it's going to be a long night."

While they will have plenty of support from the local Samoan community, Eden Park is also a ground where the All Blacks haven't tasted defeat since 1994.

"This is their fortress; we're coming to their neighbourhood," Ieremia said.

"If we can walk away and have a performance that people are proud of, and ourselves as well, then I'll be pretty happy with that."

Samoa: Ah See Tuala, Albert Nikoro, Kieron Fonotia, Alapati Leiua, Tim Nanai Williams, Tusiata Pisi, Kahn Fotualii (capt), Faifili Levave, Jack Lam, Piula Faasalele, Faatiga Lemalu, Chris Vui, Census Johnston, Maatulimanu Leiataua, Viliamu Afatia. Reserves: Seilala Lam, Nephi Leatigaga, Paul Alo-Emile, Taiasina Tuifua, Alafoti Faosiliva, Auvasa Falealii, D'Angelo Leuila, Ken Pisi.

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