v USA - 26 September, 1900 BST, Saint Etienne
Recent form: Mixed fortunes in the Pacific Nations Cup this summer, where they thrashed Tonga but struggled to beat Fiji and Japan, and lost to the Junior All Blacks and Australia A. Have played English club sides Northampton, Harlequins and Sale by way of warm-ups for the main event.
Coach: Michael Jones is one of two former World Cup winners (his old All Blacks team-mate John Kirwan is the other) coaching a country in France. One of the all-time great open-side flankers, Jones became full-time coach of his native country in 2004 after four years as assistant to John Boe.
Captain: Fans of the now-defunct Scottish Borders remember Semo Setiti, who also had spells with Cardiff and Newcastle, with great affection. The inspirational number eight, who now plays in Japan, is appearing at his third World Cup.
World Cup pedigree: Reached the quarter-finals in both their first two appearances, in 1991 and 1995, before losing to Scotland and South Africa respectively. Also made play-off round in 1999, but failed to make it out of their pool in 2003.
World Cup high: With Frank Bunce, Pat Lam and Stephen Bachop, Western Samoa sprang the biggest upset in World Cup history in 1991 when they beat Wales 16-13 in Cardiff. "Thank heavens we weren't playing the whole of Samoa" went the Welsh quip. When they did, in 1999, Samoa won 38-31.
World Cup low: Have always tended to punch above their weight, but having pushed England so close in the last World Cup, a 60-point hammering by South Africa in their last pool game was hard to bear for a proud rugby nation.
World Cup legend: Veteran centre Brian Lima, 35, will become the first player to play in five World Cups. "The Chiropractor" - so-called for his bone-rearranging tackles - has played in every one of Samoa's 16 World Cup matches, scoring 10 tries in the process. A fearsome competitor.
Present star: Alesana Tuilagi is the nearest thing rugby has seen to the great Jonah Lomu - an 18 stone wing who also runs like the wind. Left a trail of destruction with Leicester last season, and set to establish himself on a world stage.
Maverick: Centre Elvis Seveali'i is a headline writer's dream. Now with Sale after spells with Bath and Ospreys, he has a habit of leaving opponents all shook up with late winning tries.
Enforcer: Daniel Leo's mighty mop of curly hair makes him easy to identify, and despite being a laid-back character off the pitch, the 6ft 6in Wasps lock/flanker admits: "I pride myself on the aggression that I can bring to a game".
Strengths: Tackling is akin to religion for Samoan players and ferocious, in-your-face defence is a major part of their rugby identity. But pace and handling ability, especially in counter-attack situations, are also a speciality.
Weaknesses: Physicality and passion always ensures a full-blooded contest, but don't always last the pace against the big boys. Led England 16-13 after 50 minutes in last World Cup before English forwards got a grip in the last half-hour.
Did you know? Four Tuilagi brothers - Freddie, Henry, Anitelia and Alesana, have played for Leicester, while a fifth - Vavae - is in the Tigers academy, and a sixth - Manu - is at school in Leicester. Henry, Anitelia and Alesana will all be in France.
World Cup base: Neuilly sur Seine (from 31 August)
They say: "We have set our aspirations very high. The first step is to make the quarters. I believe we can get there, but we want to take it another step and make the semis, and then the final. It's a big dream."
You say: "Samoa are being touted as the wild card but they aren't going to beat South Africa first up."
mikephil on 606
World ranking: 11
Our verdict: Will come out firing in their opener against South Africa, and could cause England some more worries, but would still be a surprise if they finish above either of the two group heavyweights. Probably have to settle for third place again.
Ranking and odds correct at 26 August. Odds supplied by William Hill.