Manu Samoa name 13 New Zealand-based players in squad to face Maori All Blacks and Tonga
In total, the squad is represented by players plying their club trade in eight different countries – Samoa, New Zealand, Australia, Japan, England, Scotland, France and the United States.
There are also 13 new caps that have been named in the squad, including Glasgow Warriors prop Aki Seiuli, Counties Manukau duo Sam Slade and Kalolo Tuiloma, Melbourne Rebels hooker Albert Anae, Highlanders injury reserve Neria Fomai, former Waratahs hooker JP Sauni and ex-schoolboy star Losi Filipo.
The selections of those players will alleviate the absence of some European-based Samoan stars, such as Chris Vui of Bristol and Clermont’s Tim Nanai-Williams, due to travel and quarantine restrictions caused by COVID-19.
Mapusua said the upcoming tests, which includes a 2023 World Cup qualifier series against Tonga, is vital for Samoa in what will be the country’s first test appearances since the 2019 World Cup.
“This is a very important initial campaign for us playing the qualifier against Tonga and also privileged to play the Maori All Blacks as lead up to the qualifier,” he said.
“This will be my first campaign and considering the impacts of COVID-19 it wasn’t an easy task selecting the Manu. However, I am very confident we have the best players to represent the jersey and earn us a spot for Rugby World Cup 2023.”
Manu Samoa will kick their mid-season internationals off on June 26 when they face the Maori All Blacks in Wellington, who they will play again as part of a double-header with the All Blacks and Tonga at Mt Smart Stadium in Auckland on July 3.
Mapusua’s side will then play their first World Cup qualifier clash with Tonga in Auckland on July 10, before meeting their Pacific neighbours again on July 17 as part of another double-header with the All Blacks and Fiji at FMG Stadium Waikato in Hamilton on July 17.
Manu Samoa squad to play Maori All Blacks and Tonga
Ah See Tuala – Northampton Saints
AJ Alatimu – Seattle Seawolves
Aki Seiuli* – Glasgow Warriors
Alamanga Motuga – Counties Manukau
Albert Anae* – Melbourne Rebels
Auvasa Falealii – Papatoetoe, New Zealand
Ben Nee Nee – Kamaisihi Seawolves
D’Angelo Leuila – Fraser Tech, New Zealand
Dwayne Polataivao – Pakuranga, New Zealand
Elisapeta Alofipo* – Tama Uli Salelologa
Henry Stowers – Brumbies
Henry Taefu – Western Force
Jack Lam – NEC Green Rockets
Joe Perez* – Laulii Lions
John Vaili – Aana Chiefs
JP Sauni* – Associates, Australia
Kalolo Tuiloma* – Counties Manukau
Losi Filipo* – Bay of Plenty
Michael Alaalatoa (c) – Crusaders
Neria Formai* – Hawke’s Bay
Olajuwon Noa* – Hunter Wildfires, Australia
Ray Niuia – Blues
Rodney Yona – Brumbies
Sam Slade* – Counties Manukau
Seilala Lam – Perpignan
Stacey Ili – Melbourne Rebels
Teofilo Paulo – Avalon, New Zealand
Theodore McFarland* – Moamoa Roosters
Tietie Tuimauga* – Manawatu
TJ Ioane – Glasgow Warriors
Tomasi Alosio* – Hutt Old Boys Marist, New Zealand
* – indicates an uncapped player
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