NRL commentator Andrew Voss has praised the way Samoa fought back against Australia in the Pacific Championships opening week as they prepare to take on the New Zealand Kiwis.

Samoa were in for an evening to forget last weekend after they quickly fell to a 22-point deficit at the half-time break. However, unlike many other teams, they showed resilience to come back into the game and finish it with 12 points compared to the Kangaroos 16 - making the final score 38-12.

Mainly struggling to contend with Australia's forward pack due to the omissions of Josh Papalii, Ligi Sao and Josh Aloiai, they lacked structure defensively and failed to take it to Australia. However, the second 40 minutes saw more determination in them. 

While many labelled Samoa as one of the best international countries, their squad member's lack of experience was easily shown. Only four players from the Rugby League World Cup Grand Final team last year were selected for the Pacific Championships due to injuries and suspensions to the likes of Jarome Luai, Joseph Suaalii and Taylan May.

“I actually like the pluck of the Samoans,” Voss said on SEN 1170 Breakfast.

“Considering they had so few players (from the World Cup squad), if you had thrown Jarome Luai back in there… they only had four players backing up from last year's final.

“I thought I saw plenty of football in them, they were quite good to watch, they kept trying. Blokes like Terrell May are going to be better for the run, first time playing, Stephen Crichton playing five-eighth, he did his best.

“The story of the night was the young fullback, (Sualauvi) Faalogo, what a player, I can't wait to watch him again.”

Ben Gardiner has decided to make two new changes for the game against New Zealand this Saturday afternoon. He will keep Stephen Crichton in the halves but has decided to bring in Marion Seve to accompany Izack Tago in the centres. 

Manly rookie Gordon Chan Kum Tong has been named to start at hooker this week in a direct switch with Justin Matamua who will come off the interchange bench and play a one-two punch in the dummy-half role.

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 12: Stephen Crichton (l) of Samoa celebrates kicking the winning drop goal as England captain Sam Tomkins (r) looks on dejectedl during the Rugby League World Cup Semi-Final match between England/Papua New Guinea and Tonga/Samoa at Emirates Stadium on November 12, 2022 in London, England. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

Gardiner will be hoping his decision to move Crichton to the number six jumper works off this week. In his first game in the position, the three-time premiership winner looked complacent and looked nowhere to the disastrous best that many have seen across the years.

"It probably does make us more unpredictable," he said via AAP last week.

"We'd spoken about Jarome being out and that being a difficult thing for us as a group.

"Critter (Crichton) and I sat down and spoke about him playing a running role as a six and being in the front line for his defence. He is one of the elite outside back defenders at the NRL level so I'd expect he'd bring that to a new level in a Test match.

"Being able to move one position in gets him a little closer to the ball and gets the ball in his hands a bit more. He is excited about doing it and putting his best foot forward and I am really happy for him."