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Muliaina wary of 'unknown' Samoa

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Sportal.co.nz     02 Sep 2008     Getty Images

Due to European clubs refusing to release a majority of their Samoan internationals, the visiting side is filled with relatively unknown players with virtually no international experience.

In fact, the game on Wednesday night will be the first since 1990 that Samoa has fielded a team with more home-based players than those who play for foreign clubs.

Twenty of the Samoan squad have played less than 10 international games and have a combined total of just 63 caps between them, the same amount All Black fullback Mils Muliaina has notched.

Muliaina, along with prop Greg Somerville, is the most capped player in the All Black side to play on Wednesday and said it was difficult to know what to expect from Samoa.

"We haven't really had a decent look at them and obviously there's not much about their guys that we know about," he said.

"With the Kiwi connection there's a couple of faces there that we know but we'll have to look at some of their footage.

"They played against the Maori in the Pacific Nations Cup and we'll look at that stuff and go from there but I think Wednesday's more about us getting the things that we want to get right first but we also need to accept that they will be pretty talented as well."

Muliaina said preparing for the clash had been difficult as the All Blacks only arrived three days before the game and now had to gear up to take on a side it knew nearly nothing about.

"It's more difficult than what we're used to," said Muliaina.

"I suppose we always seem to play sides like South Africa and Australia a lot so with these guys [Samoa] we don't know much about them and what sort of style they are going to play.

"It's been a while since they played their last game together and I know there's now a number of different players that have joined since then."

Some talk has arisen over the importance of the game and whether or not the All Blacks should risk some of its top-players before the Philips Tri Nations decider against Australia in less than two weeks time.

However, Muliaina said this game was hugely important and there had been no talk of 'taking it easy' in an attempt to avoid any injuries in the game.

"We want to improve before Aussie and also make sure that we respect this Samoan team because they're going to be physical, they always are," he said.

"Whenever you go out and play, regardless of what team it is, you've got to make sure that you've prepared right.

"We have to prepare for the physicality and injuries can come from nothing, but this is something the team hasn't had to think abo