Samoan flyhalf shocked to face Boks

2015-09-25 15:52
Mike Stanley

Birmingham - Samoa flyhalf Mike Stanley was shocked to be picked in the starting line-up to face South Africa in the Rugby World Cup on Saturday, given the nod ahead of the talented Tusi Pisi.

"It was totally unexpected and I'm over the moon to be selected for such a high calibre game against such a good team," he told Reuters on the eve of the clash at Villa Park.

"I didn't expect it but was very excited when I got the heads up a few days ago," the 25-year-old said.

"We see that the two flyhalves bring different strengths and weaknesses," said coach Stephen Betham in explaining his selection.

"Mike can control the territory with his kicking game and we see him doing a bit more of that job for us."

But Stanley, who is without a club after an injury hit-season at Ulster, said he would not be kicking away all the possession in what is likely to be a bruising physical clash with the Springboks.

"We like to play with the ball in hand, that is the Samoan style of rugby," he said.

"We don't want to stray too far away from that but we understand that in these tight games taking your chances from kicks is important.

"It will be a game where taking opportunity will be vital for both team's chances. We not going to just try and just run it from every where, we are looking to play something of a territorial game but at the same time, territory isn't always about kicking and we are going to also find space by moving the ball.

"Our plans are not different to any other game. We are going to play to our strengths," he added.

The 25-year-old New Zealand-born Stanley adds a new chapter to a family of some sporting pedigree with his first World Cup appearance.

Uncle Joe Stanley and two cousins played for the All Blacks, another cousin for New Zealand's rugby league side and he is also related to Tim Cahill, who has considerable soccer World Cup experience with Australia.

Teams:

South Africa:

15 Willie le Roux, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Jean de Villiers (captain), 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Handre Pollard, 9 Fourie du Preez, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Schalk Burger, 6 Francois Louw, 5 Victor Matfield, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Adriaan Strauss, 1 Beast Mtawarira

Substitutes: 16 Schalk Brits, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Frans Malherbe, 19 Lood de Jager, 20 Siya Kolisi, 21 Ruan Pienaar, 22 Pat Lambie, 23 Jesse Kriel

Samoa:

15 Tim Nanai-Williams, 14 Ken Pisi, 13 Paul Perez, 12 Ray Lee-Lo, 11 Alesana Tuilagi, 10 Mike Stanley, 9 Kahn Fotuali'i, 8 Ofisa Treviranus (captain), 7 Jack Lam, 6 TJ Ioane, 5 Iosefa Tekori, 4 Teofilo Paulo, 3 Anthony Perenise, 2 Motu Matu'u, 1 Sakaria Taulafo

Substitutes: 16 Ole Avei, 17 Viliamu Afatia, 18 Census Johnston, 19 Faifili Levave, 20 Vavae Tuilagi, 21 Vavao Afemai, 22 Tusi Pisi, 23 George Pisi

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