Samoa skipper puts country ahead of cash

Fukuoka (Japan) (AFP) –


Samoa captain Jack Lam has put country ahead of cash to be at the World Cup, revealing Friday he turned down lucrative French offers because of strings attached which barred him from rugby's global showpiece.

The money was appealing to support his family, he said, but the clubs, which he did not identify, insisted he sever ties with Samoa.

"It was a no-brainer," said Lam who was released by Bristol at the end of the last English Premiership season.

"There were a couple of contracts in France that I could have taken but they had the condition that I had to turn down playing for Samoa in the World Cup and in the future as well," he said on the eve of their final match in Japan against Ireland.

"I just couldn't do that to myself and the jersey and it just didn't cross my mind. It was a bit of a risk, especially for my family, but my missus and my family were all behind my decision."

With Pool A a three-way battle between Ireland, Japan and Scotland to fill the two qualifying berths, Samoa will be playing for pride in their final match.

Assistant coach Al Rogers said the restrictive contracts offered to the island players had been a "massive" problem when it came to assembling their World Cup squad.

"It's been a challenge selecting this squad, but the great thing about it was that we knew we had a group that really wanted to be here, who sacrificed a lot to be here. And we could build a good foundation off that, which I think we had," he said.

Lam, the 31-year-old backrower, said the Samoans who made it to Japan had formed a special bond.

"For us as players, we want to leave with a bit of pride in the jersey. We still have a lot to play for, in terms of trying to qualify for the next World Cup and obviously for the future of rugby in Samoa," he said.

"We've been together for a good eight weeks and it's pretty much been my family for the last two months, a great family.

"We've had our ups and downs as any family would but we've managed to solve everything within our family and we're still tight."