Alesana Tuilagi (Gallo Images)
Newcastle - Samoa coach Stephen Betham claimed Thursday the Pacific island teams had been singled out over rough play and were warned about their discipline before the World Cup began.
As the penalties and yellow cards mount up against Samoa, Fiji and Tonga, Betham said the teams were "tainted. We were warned at the start."
His outburst came as Samoa considered appealing a five-week ban on Alesana Tuilagi for kneeing Harumichi Tatekawa as the Japanese player tried to tackle him.
The judicial ruling has been widely criticised on social media by former players as video replays indicated a problem with the technique of the much smaller Tatekawa as he tried to stop Tuilagi in full flight.
"We are feeling the pain," Betham said of not being able to field the giant Newcastle wing in their final pool game against Scotland on Saturday.
"I think I will leave it at that. I don't want to get into trouble if I say anything more."
But he said the Pacific islanders were clearly warned before the World Cup began their discipline was under the microscope.
"We don't train to go out to hurt people. We are out there to play tough rugby, hard rugby the way we know how to play it," he said.
"It's unfortunate that that's the way we're seen.
"We were warned of things we were to be mindful of coming from the past," he added, confirming the warning related to "ill-discipline".
"At the end of the day we were warned and we've got to abide by the rules, that's what it's about.
"Sometimes we tend to exert ourselves when we need to and that's how it is. We play hard, we play tough and that's the way we know how to play rugby."
Tuilagi was one of two Samoans cited in their 26-5 loss to Japan in a match where they also gave away 19 penalties and had three players sent to the sin-bin.
Fiji have had three players banned during the tournament -- Nemani Nadolo and Dominiko Waqaniburotu were suspended for one match for dangerous tackles while prop Manasa Saulo received a 10-week ban for stamping.
Wallaby flanker Michael Hooper received a one-match ban for a dangerous clear-out in their win over England while England's Tom Wood only received a warning after his shin connected with Welsh fullback Liam Williams leaving him concussed.
When Tuilagi was suspended, former England international Lewis Moody tweeted: "I'm appalled Alesana has been banned for 5 weeks. How is running into an opponent an act of foul play. Should we play walking rugby now!!!"