Taupo - The South African charm offensive that has been working so well throughout the Rugby World Cup was again in full swing when Springbok coach Peter De Villiers said the Samoans are a revelation in world rugby.
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"Samoa were, in some of the minds of the people, maybe your minds and maybe also my mind before I came here, they were a minnow, but they are not anymore," said De Villiers.
"Samoa is actually a revelation in world rugby."
While the Springboks had a relaxed weekend, Samoa underlined De Villiers’s statement by securing a 27-7 victory over Fiji in Auckland.
The win, however came at a price as they lost star flyhalf Tusi Pisi to a hamstring injury in the second half.
But the Samoan medical team said they are confident Pisi would be ready to face South Africa in a week’s time as he did not tear the muscle.
De Villiers’s compliments did not stop there, as he went on to say that Samoa were New Zealand’s second team and that there are very few differences between them and the No 1 ranked side in the world.
"They have been coached like New Zealand, they act like New Zealand and they play like New Zealand so for us it is great to do that (use the match as a test for the knock-out stages), because this game is going to be a great preparation for the New Zealand game."
By the time the Springboks’ final pool match of the 2011 Rugby World Cup gets underway, Samoa will know exactly what will be required of them to make the play-offs.
On Monday, third placed Wales face Namibia and are expected to bank a convincing victory.
That would leave the Islanders - currently placed second with 10 log points - in a situation where, to qualify, they would either have to win, draw, score four tries or lose by less than seven points to the defending champions.
De Villiers said his men were bracing themselves for a very physical battle and that the road to the final had become tougher because of other results.
Should the Springboks extended their unbeaten run to four Test matches - including a Tri-Nations victory over the All Blacks in Port Elizabeth - they are likely to face Pool C runners-up Australia in the quarter-finals.
Australia’s recent defeat to Ireland ensured that the Springboks passed them in the IRB’s world rankings.
The move into second place on the log, behind the All Blacks, had boosted morale in the Springbok camp.
"You guys might recall that I said this in June - we didn’t come here as number one, we came here as number three, we want to leave here as number one," De Villiers said.
"And I think we are progressing at the moment."
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