Injuries are a part of the game of rugby league but when they hit you hard and fast, it can often cause problems and for Samoa – although they cruised to victory against Papua New Guinea at the World Cup – they were only able to name an 18-man squad due to injuries.
Unable to bring any new players in after the RLIF denied their request to do so, Samoan coach Matt Parish is well aware of the careful nature in which his players have to take in both training and future games.
“We have to regroup now and manage them in training as we can’t afford any more injuries,” he said.
Losing Frankie Winterstein in the last few days was a blow for the Samoans and they will be sweating on the fitness of Reni Maitua and Harrison Hansen in the coming days.
Despite the injury toll, Parish was pleased with the way his side performed in both defence and attack and knows that they can get even better.
“I’m very pleased and I said all along that as the tournament goes on we will improve,” Parish said.
“Our first-half performance was as good as any other team in this tournament so far. I thought we played very well and to win a World Cup game 38-4 showed outstanding defence.
“The first half really was outstanding and we will look to improve as the tournament continues.”
For Papua New Guinea, the loss means that their hopes of making the next round of the World Cup are over, with coach Adrian Lam admitting that they have been disappointing so far.
“Our start was really poor and that was the number one priority in the week, to start well,” Lam said.
“Five out of the first six sets ended with an error, and that was a problem.
“One thing we have always done in Papua New Guinea is score points and we haven’t done that. We didn’t handle their size and they were too big and strong.”
Lam is optimistic moving forward, however, with PNG putting forth the correct procedures and plans down the track in preparation for the next World Cup.
“Politically, we’ve been on our knees for the last five years, even though we’re the only country where rugby league is the national sport,” Lam said.
“What we now have in place is a high-performance programme and a five-year plan leading to the next World Cup.
“We want that to be a great year. We are building and, with Mal on board, we have someone to help and guide us.
“I would ask people to be patient. We will have had seven million watching at home who will be disappointed. But we know that wasn’t good.”