Rugby League: Samoans over the top

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The Independent Online
THE rugby league players of Western Samoa have shown their new coach, Graham Lowe, that they are the true heirs to the warlike history of their island, writes Dave Hadfield.

An exhibition match staged as part of a ceremony to welcome Lowe to the country had to be abandoned when an all-in brawl erupted. Even spectators joined in after two players exchanged blows over a tackle and the fight escalated to involve both teams.

In a comment worthy of Hanley - the Conservative Party chairman Jeremy, rather than Great Britain's coach, Ellery - Lowe said: 'It was just over-exuberance, I suppose.' The former New Zealand coach, who has also been in charge of Wigan, added: 'They will have to learn what is acceptable on the field and what is not.'

Lowe, mooted as part of Britain's coaching team for the Ashes series, is to coach the Samoans in next year's centenary World Cup in Britain, where they are drawn in a group with Wales and France. Leading British-based players like Vai'iga Tuigamala qualify for Western Samoa and Lowe says that he has no doubts about their potential to become a force in world rugby league.