Lee Radford delighted by duo’s impact after Super League players were ‘overlooked’ by fellow Samoan coaching staff prior to World Cup

Samoa assistant coach Lee Radford says it has been ‘pleasing’ to see the impact of Ligi Sao and Tim Lafai in the Rugby League World Cup, mainly down to their status as Super League players.

The pair were called up after the first week of the tournament due to injuries in the Samoan squad and they have helped the Pacific Islanders make a revival in the tournament.

After their week one 60-6 humiliation to England, the duo have been involved in every match since their call-ups helping Samoa setup a rematch with the host nation in the semi-finals.

And speaking to the BBC 5 Live Rugby League Podcast, Radford admitted that he was extra pleased to see Sao and Lafai perform well after many of his Super League selection suggestions prior to the tournament were shut down.

“I think the additions that have come in, in Ligo Sao and Tim Lafai, they have been fantastic for us,” said Radford.

“I’m sure they won’t mind me saying this but when we had the selection meeting prior to the competition, I was tossing up blokes up like Tim Lafai and Ricky Leutele but they felt there was better options coming from Australia.

“To see those blokes come in and do so well it’s pleasing for me been involved in Super League.”

To the credit of Samoa head coach Matt Parish, he was able to correct his mistake in leaving the duo out who, along with Radford, will provide extra knowhow on England’s players ahead of the semi-final.

Speaking ahead of the semi-final at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday afternoon, Radford pin-pointed the areas where Samoa must improve from the first meeting between the sides.

“I think after round one it was obvious to see the difference in ruck tempo and ruck control. We got mobbed in the ruck first game and we have shown a little bit more detail in that area as the rounds have gone by.

“We were better on Sunday (against Tonga) but hopefully we’ll be at our best this coming Saturday.

“In terms of allegiance, look if we don’t win it I want England to win it, that’s a dead cert. But from a professional point of view it was an opportunity I couldn’t turn down to work with some fantastic coaches and incredible players.”

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