Belfast Telegraph

Home Sport Rugby

Samoa coach Betham highlights the value of game time despite loss to Barbarians

Samoa coach Stephen Betham was happy to see his squad get some much-needed game time during their 27-24 defeat against the Barbarians.

Most of Betham's squad have not since any action since their historic Test against the All Blacks in Apia back in July.

Samoa begin their World Cup campaign against the US Eagles in Brighton in three weeks' time before they face the Springboks at Villa Park the following Saturday.

"I think most of those players needed game time," said Betham.

"The last time most of those players played was the All Blacks Test. It was good to get a hit out today."

Betham's side were forced to play more than an hour of the contest with 14 men after lock Kane Thompson was red carded for punching Baa-Baas hooker Saia Fainga'a in the 16th minute.

"We haven't really gone back to review that," Betham explained.

"It's a bit harsh but that's what it is. We can't use that as an excuse. We've got to keep moving forward."

Former New Zealand sevens and schoolboys representative Tim Nanai-Williams was making his second Test start for the Pacific Islanders.

The Waikato Chiefs utility back was starved of possession, as the Samoan pack struggled against an experienced Barbarians outfit - but he showed glimpses of attacking brilliance when the ball did come his way.

"Tim's been great coming on board," Betham added.

"He's added a lot of value. He brings a lot of professionalism into the team.

"Most of the team are starting to get around him and hopefully back him up when they need to. That's just his second game (playing for Samoa) - but we need to work together as a team.

"Sometimes Tim will be do something out of the ordinary and if the other players can't read his body language then it won't come off."

Barbarians head coach Jamie Joseph was also impressed with Nanai-Williams' display at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

Joseph, who is also head coach of the Otago Highlanders, has come across the Chiefs star many times during Super Rugby in recent seasons and the Kiwi was more than impressed with the fleet-footed full back's performance at the east London venue.

"He's a very dangerous player," said Joseph.

"He played at full-back today but he could play anywhere really. I've been on the wrong end of Tim Nanai-Williams as a Super Rugby coach - he's just a very good rugby player."


From Belfast Telegraph