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Hitmen will be gunning for Roberts in clash.

Byline: Andy Howell

RENOWNED hitmen Samoa have served a public health warning on Jamie Roberts ahead of their Cardiff showdown with Wales.

Star centre Seilala Mapasua revealed they're aiming to emulate New Zealand last weekend and bottle up the 6ft 4in midfield powerhouse.

The London Irish star claimed they'd carry out their mission by fair means, insisting Samoa had cleaned up their act and lessened the number of illegal head-high tackles which used to spread fear in opponents.

But he warned spectators "not to expect miracles" tonight when it came to discipline, insisting huge hits were still fundamental to the Samoan psyche.

"We will still play with the same passion and the same physicality Samoa has been known for," said Mapasua.

And Mapusua was excited about the prospect of getting to grips with Roberts, the official Lions player of the tour during the summer series in South Africa.

"I haven't played against Jamie Roberts before, but he's a quality footballer," declared the 29-year-old.

"He's a big man, but he has got silky hands and is deceptively quick. Him and (All Blacks centre) Ma'a Nonu had a real good battle last weekend.

"Roberts is the guy to get Wales going forward, which is what he's good at, and alongside him Tom Shanklin is another quality player with great feet and great hands."

But, ominously, he warned: "It's our job to stop them.

"I think we are improving greatly.

"We had a disappointing World Cup in 2007 by Samoan standards. Some of the results were close but, in terms of performance, we weren't satisfied.

"With the new coaching staff we have got and fresh approach that's been taken this year and last Samoan rugby is starting to go in the right direction towards the 2011 World Cup.

"We are taking a bit of the old brand of Samoan rugby and trying to marry it with the professional game.

"We have got a lot of players who ply their trade in Europe and are heavily involved in the professional environment. "We are trying to implement what they have learnt into Samoan rugby, while retaining our core values and culture.

"We are more disciplined, not only on the field but off it, in terms of nutrition, looking after our bodies and weight-training." Guinness Premiership ace Mapusua believes Samoa face a tougher challenge against Wales than if they were tackling Martin Johnson's England.

The current International Rugby Board world rankings back up Mapusua's theory _ Wales are rated one place above England in seventh spot.

"In terms of what England are doing, they are not really gelling at the moment," he said. "From what I have seen, Wales play more attractive rugby. I think Wales are a more balanced team."
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Nov 13, 2009
Words:454
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