Australian rugby has inadvertently given struggling Manu Samoa a helping hand ahead of the World Cup.
The Samoan Pacific Nations squad has been training in Auckland this week, bringing together players from far and wide, including a new breed of Aussies.
“We're probably looking at nearly a quarter of the squad that have had an Australian influence,” Chris Latham told 1 NEWS.
One of the Sam-Aussies is Adelaide-born Aussie rules-raised UJ Seuteni.
“I was kind of embarrassed to say that I played rugby in Adelaide because all my friends were kind of, 'What’s that?'” Seuteni said.
Like several in the squad, Seuteni went through the Australian under 20s system and then trained under English superboot Johnny Wilkinson in France
“There's a lot of things I took on board,” Seuteni said of his time learning from the World Cup winner.
He's eyeing his first World Cup, while 78-Test Wallaby Latham is also off to his first as a coach, after three as a player.
“Obviously, I know the build-up that's required to be successful at a World Cup as a player but to now experience that as a coach, it's amazing,” Latham said.
Similar sentiments were expressed by fellow coach and one-Test All Black prop Ben Afeaki, whose playing career was cut short four years ago.
“It's pretty exciting to see the size of some of these boys that come in. They did some fitness testing yesterday, so we've got a good gauge of where they're at,” Afeaki said.
Manu Samoa is not in a good place at the moment, 16th in the global rankings after a string of losses since the last World Cup. But one of their veterans reckons this week's training camp can help them rise again.
“This is one of the best. We have one week before a Test match so hopefully we are going to do better this time,” prop Logovi'i Mulipola said.
If the 32-year-old can reproduce the power running that made him a cult figure at Leicester, there will be no argument with the team's head of entertainment serving up the hits off the field as well.