Samoa has named a 26-man squad heavy with overseas-based players for next week’s historic one-off rugby test against New Zealand at Apia….reports NZHerald.co.nz
Prime minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegao, who is also chairman of the Samoa Rugby Union, announced the squad in the Samoan capital on Tuesday.
The match lineup has yet to be confirmed but London Irish flanker Ofisa Treviranus was named earlier this week as captain and is likely to combine in an experienced backrow with France-based double international Maurie Fasavalu and Bristol No. 8 Jack Lam. Fasavalu played rugby league for Great Britain before joining London-based Harlequins in 2010.
The Samoa squad is drawn from players based in England, France, Japan, New Zealand and South Africa, highlighting the extent of the Samoan rugby diaspora.
At least 24 of the 26-man Samoa squad are permanently based overseas. Among the forwards, hooker Wayne Ole Avei plays in France for Bordeaux-Begles while of the props Viliamu Afatia is at Agen, Census Johnston at Toulouse, Anthony Perenise at Bristol and Sakaria Taulafo at Stade Francais.
Tusi Pisi, who is likely to start at flyhalf, is based in Japan with Suntory Sungoliath and may combine with scrumhalf Kahn Fotuali’i who plays at Northampton.
Fullback Tim Nanai-Williams plays for the Hamilton-based Chiefs in Super Rugby while, of the wingers named Wednesday, Alofa Alofa is with La Rochelle in France, Ken Pisi is with Northampton and Alesana Tuilagi ” brother of England center Manu Tuilagi ” is at Newcastle.
The broad professional experience should make the team competitive in Samoa’s first-ever home test against the All Blacks.
“In the forwards alone it’s a big challenge for us as it’s an opportunity, a one off opportunity to play against the best,” Fa’asavalu said.
The Samoa players have been in camp for some time preparing for the test on Wednesday, July 8.
“It’s about every player gelling together…getting our plays right and the little things that help us make the improvement,” said Fa’asavalu.
New Zealand had also yet to name its match lineup.
Samoa squad: Wayne Ole Avei, Ma’atulimanu Leiataua, Viliamu Afatia, Census Johnston, Anthony Perenise, Sakaria Taulafo, Kane Thompson, Teofilo Paulo, Iosefa Tekori, Fa’atiga Lemalu, Alafoti Faosiliva, Jack Lam, Ofisa Treviranus (captain), Maurie Fa’asavalu, T.J. Ioane, Kahn Fotuali’i, Peleifofoga Cowley, Tusiata Pisi, Michael Stanley, Alofa Alofa, Ken Pisi, Alesana Tuilagi, Faialaga Afamasaga, Johnny Leota, Paul Perez, Tim Nanai-Williams, Ah See Tuala.