Auckland - Samoa coach Alama Ieremia is using the All Blacks Test on
Friday as a benchmark to see how much his side have improved over the past
couple of years.
Samoa hosted the All Blacks in Apia two years ago and could
hold their heads high after putting up an excellent display in an honourable
Ieremia's men face the All Blacks again on Friday but this
time at Eden Park in Auckland where the Samoans still enjoy considerable
And Ieremia will use the opportunity to gauge his whether
his side have improved from two years ago or stood still.
"We talked about the past and that particular game and
the emotion that came with it," former All Black Ieremia told Stuff after
unveiling his side for Friday's encounter.
"It was very heartening to see the reception we've had
so far from the Samoan community here, and it reminded the boys about what it
was like back in Samoa a couple of years ago when we played them.
"But that was two years ago. We need to make a
statement and find out where we are this year. It's important we have a base
mark so we can move forward. They were fun times back then; but we need to make
fun times for now."
Ieremia has named his strongest possible 23, 19 of whom ply
their trade in UK and Europe.
"We believe it's a team that can challenge the All
Blacks," added Ieremia. "We have picked guys who are used to this
sort of tempo. The All Blacks are not a team you can experiment with. This is
our strongest side. The gauge for us is about where we're at as a team, and
we'll find out after this test match.
"We're preparing to play the best team in the world. It
doesn't matter what team they put out, there is no weak All Black team. We're
excited about the challenge."
And Ieremia has said are fortunate in that they do not need
a lot of time to gel due to a strong team culture.
"It's part of our DNA. We come together very quickly,
our team culture and spirit is very high, which makes it easy for the rugby
"A lot of these players might not get another chance to
play the All Blacks. It's important we respect that but also get stuck into our