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Last Updated: Tuesday, 28 October, 2003, 10:57 GMT
Time to address the Island problem

Zinzan Brooke
Former All Blacks number eight

While some looked on in disbelief at Samoa's performance against England, those in the know were not surprised.

I spoke to assistant coach Michael Jones before the match and he was confident they were going to put in a good show.

Samoa pushed England all the way in Melbourne
Samoa pushed England all the way in Melbourne
There has clearly been a move, since the last World Cup, towards a more running game - and that suits Samoa perfectly.

What did surprise me was that the Islanders stayed in the game for the length of time they did.

I knew they would be competitive - just not that competitive.

England should feel happy that they have come away with a win.

At 10-0 up Earl Va'a missed another penalty that England counter-attacked from and scored.

It could have been so different. So it is important not to talk down the Samoan performance. The way they played was superb.

Samoa showed what they are capable of in their first World Cup in 1991. They defeated an impressive Wales side 16-13 and then almost shocked Australia - who went on to win - in a narrow 9-3 defeat.

There is a lot of talk about the players Samoa have not got available and the problem is clearly a disgrace.

This is the World Cup and the best players should be playing in it.

Something has to be decided - and decided now. The International Rugby Board (IRB) should be in a position to compensate the clubs.

Someone needs to step up and take care of this problem because the consequences of not dealing with it are frightening.

Losing countries such as Samoa, Fiji and Tonga would be a huge blow to the game.

We could re-introduce tours which have always played a vital part in rugby culture
Zinzan Brooke
It is up to the larger countries to nurture those around them - perhaps through to the next World Cup.

New Zealand should look after Samoa, the USA and perhaps someone like Papua New Guinea.

We should be giving these countries the best opportunities that are available.

The Tri-Nations and Super 12 contracts are also coming to an end. Rugby union needs another 10-year plan.

Certainly the Super 12 should be extended, and the Tri-Nations should abolish the current "home and away" structure.

We could then re-introduce tours, which have always played a vital part in rugby culture in terms of growing the spirit within a squad.

The whole question of where the game is going needs to be re-addressed and the IRB must act now if disaster is to be averted.





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