Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend has expressed his sympathy for Samoan rugby after they were declared bankrupt earlier this week.
The Pacific Islanders were declared bankrupt by prime minister Tuila’epa Sailele Malielegaoi ahead of their two autumn Tests in November, starting at Murrayfield on Saturday before they take on England.
The Rugby Football Association intends to make a goodwill payment of £75,000 to the Samoan Rugby Union ahead of their meeting at Twickenham later in the month, while Press Association Sport understands the Scottish Rugby Union will cover the costs of Samoa during their time in Scotland under a longstanding agreement.
Townsend, who is preparing to take charge of his first game on home turf for the first time since taking charge in the summer, said it was important to keep sides like Samoa and Fiji in the world game.
“We want every country doing well, especially a nation like Samoa that has produced so many good rugby players and so many great wins over the years,” he said.
“Let’s hope they get through this in a much better state than they seem to be in right now.”
Townsend added: “I believe professional rugby can and has enhanced opportunities for players in the South Seas and the amount of Fijian players, Tongans and Samoans playing in Europe now at a high level has really increased over the years.
“The Islanders have a real affinity with the game but their strengths as individuals are brought out.
“They are a huge part of the worldwide game of rugby and it’s a big challenge taking them on this week because we know how proud they are but also what a good team they are.”
Townsend has handed a debut to Edinburgh prop Darryl Marfo on Saturday, while George Turner, Jamie Bhatti and Chris Harris could all make their first appearances off the bench.
Townsend admitted Marfo – who recently joined from Bath – had come in under the radar after impressing during the early stages of the season.
He said: “We didn’t know much about him. We watched Edinburgh train and he played in the first pre-season game and we started to take more notice of him after that.
“The fact that he got his opportunity at Edinburgh is partly down to injuries, but he has played ahead of other players we were looking at.
“He’s shown consistency and we believe he is getting better and better, and we have seen that in the two weeks with us.”
Stuart Hogg and Tommy Seymour line up in an all-Glasgow back line along with Huw Jones – who has completed his move from the Stormers – and Alex Dunbar following injury.
John Barclay has overcome concussion to lead the side while Stuart McInally gets a first start in over a year at hooker following injury to Ross Ford.
Townsend admitted: “We have probably known this team for a couple of weeks now. We explained to the players at the start of the camp that we want to make sure that in the short period we have with the group, that they train a lot together.”