Incoming nib Newcastle Knight Herman Ese’ese admits Samoa’s first clash for the 2017 Rugby League World Cup won’t be an easy encounter.
“It's the pool of death, you could say that,” suggested Ese’ese.
“Coming up against New Zealand first, they are always a tough team and a tier one nation.
“After that we have Tonga so it doesn’t get any easier, but it is good to test yourself against the best teams in the world and I am just looking forward to it.”
The 23-year-old, who will be starting on the bench for Samoa against the Kiwis in Auckland on Saturday, said preparations for their first World Cup game have been going well.
“This week we have been getting stuck in to training and the last couple of days have been pretty intense so we’re definitely looking forward to it,” Ese’ese said.
“I mostly played off the bench for the (Brisbane) Broncos and provided some good impact for the boys so I hope I can do that for my country.”
The Samoans have plenty of strike power out wide with Tim Lafai and Joey Leilua, but are also boasting an intimidating forward pack led by a number of the NRL’s big men.
“We have a mix of experience and youth so we’ve got the likes of Josh Papalii coming back from the Kangaroos and State of Origin and we’ve also got Frank Pritchard who has played over 300 games, so we are definitely experienced in the forward pack,” explained Ese’ese.
The young forward, who made his international debut with Samoa earlier this year in the Pacific Test, maintains the support from fans has already been strong before their World Cup kick-off and can’t wait for the hype this Saturday.
“Here in Auckland, there is a high population of Samoans so we have definitely felt the love,” commented Ese’ese.
“When we go for a walk down the street to get coffee, we hear cars beeping and people waving at us.
“I am definitely grateful for all the Samoan community and all the other people that get behind this team.
“The crowd here in Auckland is really passionate… we need all the support we can get from the Samoan community and I feel this is the best place to get that support.”
Samoa will also play Tonga and Scotland in their other two pool matches.
“There was a lot of hype around Tonga at the start of the campaign and we are trying not to let that get to our heads,” said Ese’ese.
“Coming up against Tonga in our second game, we have just got to keep working hard, focusing on us and what we need to do to be a better team.
“As for Scotland, we watched their warm up game which unfortunately they fell short, but we are expecting big things from Scotland.
“We just need to trust in the process, have belief in our game plan, and try not to worry about any other teams.”
ALL THE DETAILS:
Samoa v New Zealand
When: Saturday, October 28
Where: Mt Smart Stadium, Auckland
Time: 8.10pm (NZDT) – 6.10pm (AEDT)
Samoa v Tonga
When: Saturday, November 4
Where: Waikato Stadium, Hamilton (NZ)
Time: 7.30pm (NZDT) – 5.30pm (AEDT)
Samoa v Scotland
When: Saturday, November 11
Where: Barlow Park, Cairns
Time: 5pm (AEST)