Samoa's players sing the national anthem ahead of a Test against Scotland in mid-November. Photo: Reuters/Craig Brough
Samoa's players sing the national anthem ahead of a Test against Scotland in mid-November. Photo: Reuters/Craig Brough
Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, Samoa's prime minister and president of the country's rugby union,   addresses the 72nd United Nations General Assembly in New York in September. Photo:  REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, Samoa's prime minister and president of the country's rugby union, addresses the 72nd United Nations General Assembly in New York in September. Photo: REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

LONDON - Samoa’s players risk being kicked out of the squad to face England if they speak out against the country’s governance crisis, according to former captain Dan Leo.

The Pacific Islanders are on the brink of bankruptcy, with six unpaid medical students brought in this week to assist their team doctor.

Their players will earn £650 each from Saturday’s Twickenham showdown compared to £22,000 per England player and are facing withheld funding.

"The players won’t say what they really think about the situation because they fear getting kicked out of the squad," Leo said. "There is a history of World Rugby and the SRU silencing players if they speak up.

"I experienced that first hand and other guys did, too. You’ve got the Samoan Union saying one thing and World Rugby saying another. The players are caught in the middle."

Leo has called for the introduction of revenue sharing to fix the sport’s broken economic model.

The RFU will bank all of the £7million takings this weekend, while there are further concerns about the transparency of Samoa’s governance. But the players have made an effort to distance themselves from the crisis.

"That stuff in Samoa is back in Samoa," captain Chris Vui said. "All we can drive is the rugby. There’s obviously a huge gap between what they get paid and what we get paid but that stuff is out of our control.

"Pacific nations are very keen on fairness and I’m sure there will be a point where it evens out. Our team-mates are our family. We’ve all flown in from France, Australia, Samoa, New Zealand to play with each other. Our bond goes further than money."

Rookie No 8 Sam Simmonds could make his first England start on Saturday after Nathan Hughes suffered a knee injury.

Exeter’s Simmonds, 23, who played in the Championship last year, was last night retained in Eddie Jones’s 25-man squad.

Anthony Watson has been sent back to Bath to rest, while fellow Lions George Kruis and Jonathan Joseph have also been released.

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