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Friday 25 September 2015 | Published in Regional


BIRMINGHAM – Before the blood and thunder of their match with South Africa on Saturday, Samoa are enjoying the tranquil surroundings, sweeping fairways and manicured greens of the Belfry golf resort in the heart of the Warwickshire countryside.

And assistant coach Alama Ieremia intends to make full use of the facilities at their training base which has staged golf’s Ryder Cup four times.

It is an idyllic choice of headquarters for the Samoans ahead of what’s likely to be a brutal collision with the Springboks.

Even the non-golfers among the squad have plenty to occupy themselves with when not training for the showdown at Villa Park.

“I’d like to think I am a very good golfer,” single-handicapper Ieremia said. “I have already sent my challenge out to the team to take me on. Obviously I’ll have lots of work to do first but I can’t wait to get out there. It looks a tremendous course.

“It’s important to get the balance right between working hard with preparations and occupying our down time. We have table tennis competitions, cards competitions and now golf.”

“We are happy people. We enjoy each other’s company a lot. You have to get the variety around the team both in the training and the relaxation time.

“There’s no question of us being bored by being away for so long. I don’t mind if we are here until the end of October. I’ll be very surprised if we are bored by then.”

The team bond between the Samoan players is strong and their shared Christian faith brings them even closer together. When they play cards the stakes can be high, though they are never financial.

“It is competitive but not for money, prop Anthony Perenise said. “We play for food. We bet on any food that is around, we’ve got good appetites.

“We have an entertainment committee and the boys come up with new ideas all the time. We are also a religious side so we do a lot of singing. That gets the team together and builds up our spirit.”