When Manu Samoa swept aside Australia less than two months from the start of the World Cup they sent a clear message - to Wales in particular - they will be serious contenders come tournament time.
Samoa are in arguably the toughest pool at the World Cup - with South Africa, Wales, Fiji and Namibia - where at least four teams boast credentials worthy of filling one of the two quarterfinal berths.
Wales have the most reason to be concerned having underestimated Samoa in the 1991 and 1999 World Cups and former All Blacks great Michael Jones, a Samoan, sees history repeating itself.
"I certainly believe they have the personnel to beat Wales," he said when reviewing the 32-23 win over Australia.
"Now they have the belief that this time they're going to get through the pool stage to the top eight," added Jones.
Samoa's quest to be recognised among the sports elite nations has been hampered by the money on offer to play professionally in New Zealand, Australia and Europe which has drawn their leading players away.
The players have the money but the union does not and it had to raise 6.5 million tala (US.9 million) in public donations to cover World Cup costs including the warm up game in Australia.
Outside of the World Cup the Samoans are rarely all available at the same time and when coach Fuimaono Titimaea Tafua first named a 41-man squad to be pruned to 30 for the Cup, only four of the players were based in Samoa.
Several members of the side who beat Australia were absent from the squad which finished last in the Pacific Nations Cup the previous week.
But when they are together the Samoans have forged a unit renowned for a powerful, confrontational style and Springbok captain John Smit described the first 20 minutes of his 2007 World Cup match against Samoa as "the most physical of my Test career."
Although Wallabies coach Robbie Deans may not have fielded his strongest side against the Samoans he made no excuses for the defeat and admitted his side was out-muscled up front.
"We got beaten in the physical exchanges, they defended strongly and they attacked the breakdown effectively and turned ball over," he said.
The forward pack is big and experienced, led by Otago Highlanders hooker Mahonri Schwalger along with Toulouse prop Census Johnston and Ospreys loose forward George Stowers.
The backs include former IRB Sevens Player of the Year Uale Mai contesting the scrumhalf role with Kahn Fotuali'i of the Canterbury Crusaders.
Former London Irish centurion Seilala Mapusua guides the midfield with Paul Williams from Stade Francais and a son of All Blacks legend Bryan Williams at fullback.
Samoa, when they played under the name of Western Samoa, qualified for the knock-out stage in 1991, 1995 and 1999, beating Wales in pool play in '91 and '99.
They struggled at the last World Cup in France with one win from four pool games, and see this tournament as a chance for redemption.
"There's a lot of motivation going into this one," said New Zealand-born captain Mapusua, adding the team should not lack support with the large Samoan community living in Auckland.
"This is as close to a home World Cup as we'll get, and it is a home World Cup for a lot of the boys who were born and raised in New Zealand, so it's really exciting for us, and really exciting for our people too," he explained.
When Samoa fronted up against Australia it was the first time they had fielded all their top players since their Northern Hemisphere tour the previous year.
Now they want to prove that was no fluke by beating Wales in pool play which could see them finish second to South Africa in Pool D and a rematch with likely Pool C winners Australia in the quarterfinals.
Fuimaono Titimaea Tafua.
Tafua forged his coaching reputation with the Samoa Sevens side and masterminded their first win in the IRB Sevens series when they won the Wellington leg in 2007. Two years later he was appointed the Manu Samoa head coach. Tafua, a former Manu Samoa and Samoa Sevens captain, said his World Cup goal is "to go back to the quarterfinals".
Samoan skipper Mapusua may now be heading into the twilight of his career but he remains a potent force in the midfield from where he directs the Samoan attack. Renowned for his explosive running with the ball and rock-solid defence, Mapusua joined the Kubota Spears in Japan this year after long stints with the Otago Highlanders and London Irish. Mapusua is described by London Irish coach Toby Booth as "a guy that wants to go to war for you". In 2009 he won the Players' Player of the Year award in England.
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