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13 Moana Pasifika reps named for Samoa's duel with Australia A

By Sam Smith
(Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

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Already highlighting the benefits of Moana Pasifika’s introduction to Super Rugby Pacific in 2022, 13 players from the composite Pacific Islands side will run out for Samoa in the opening game of this year’s Pacific Nations Cup.

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Head coach Seilala Mapusua has named eight debutants for Saturday afternoon’s clash with Australia A – four of whom played for Moana Pasifika this season. Clermont’s Fritz Lee – who made a handful of appearances for the New Zealand sevens side earlier in his career – has also been named to start, having taken advantage of World Rugby’s new regulations which allow players to switch national allegiances after a three-year stand-down period.

Up front, Aki Seuili and captain Michael Alaalatoa have been named to prop up the scrum while Seilala Lam will pack down at hooker.

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The biggest challenge facing the All Blacks in their first test of 2022.
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The biggest challenge facing the All Blacks in their first test of 2022.

In the second row, Samuel Slade will combine with Bristol’s Chris Vui, who hasn’t been available to represent Samoa since the 2019 Rugby World Cup.

Lee will take on responsibilities at the back of the scrum while the Sharks’ Olajuwon Noa and Moana Pasifika’s Alamanda Motuga round out the forward pack.

Ereatara Enari and Jonathan Taumateine will share duties at scrumhalf while Brumbies pivot Rodney Iona will steer the ship in the No 10 jersey.

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D’Angelo Leuila and Neria Foma’i will partner up in the midfield while Nigel Ah Wong, Lolagi Visinia and Danny Toala have all been named for their test rugby debuts in the outside backs.

Ioane is the sole player in the backline to have not represented Moana Pasifika throughout this year’s Super Rugby Pacific competition.

On the bench, Ray Niuia and LA Giltinis props Andrew Tuala and Marco Fepulea’i will cover the front row while Theo McFarland, Henry Time-Stowers and Jack Lam will back up the locks and loosies. Taumateine is joined by Henry Taefu as the backline reserves.

Samoa last took on Australia A back in 2008 when they suffered a narrow five-point defeat at home. With some handy additions thanks to World Rugby’s changing regulations coupled with the added experience generated thanks to the conception of Moana Pasifika, Samoa will be hoping to more than hold their own against the second-string Australia side in Suva this weekend.

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The opening match of this year’s Pacific Nations Cup – the first since 2019 – will kick off at 1:00pm FJT from ANZ Stadium in Suva.

Samoa: Danny Toala, Lolagi Visinia, Neria Foma’i, D’Angelo Leuila, Nigel Ah Wong, Rodney Ioane, Ereatara Enari, Fritz Lee, Alamanda Motuga, Olajuwon Noa, Chris Vui, Samuel Slade, Michael Ala’alatoa, Seilala Lam, Aki Seiuli. Reserves: Ray Niuia, Andrew Tuala, Marco Fepulea’i, Theo McFarland, Henry Time-Stowers, Jack Lam, Jonathan Taumateine, Henry Taefu.

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