Sao is the player to watch in the Manu Samoa side

The 21-year-old prop Alofaaga Sao has been touted as a potential star of the future.

Identified in the Samoan domestic championship he has made serious inroads in terms of his development going from weight training sessions with 32 coconuts bundled together to doing 140kg squats at the gym.

He is a powerful ball carrier and will get his chance in the Pacific Nations Cup. Arguably their best player is fullback Ahsee Tuala, a lethal, try scoring presence, who plays with the Northampton Saints.

It spawned the gallows humour observation from one Welsh player that ‘thank god we weren’t playing the whole of Samoa.’ Western Samoa beat Wales 16-13 at the Arms Park in a pool match during the 1991 World Cup.

The Samoan team contained many luminaries including Pat Lam, Brian Lima, former All Black Frank Bunce, Stephen Bachop who went on to play for New Zealand subsequently and also Blackrock College, Mat Keenan of London Irish and legendary prop and captain Peter Fatialofa.

They qualified for the World Cup by beating Germany over two legs, comfortably in Apia but with 14-minutes remaining in Heidelberg in the second leg they trailed 28-21 before pulling away to win 42-28. Compromised by a lack of funds, player withdrawals and the sacking of head coach Fuimaono Titimaea Tafua, they have some excellent ball players and will profit from the time spent together at the tournament but lack the obvious quality of previous squads.