Veteran prop Logovi’i Mulipola has told new head coach Seilala Mapusua he is ready to fly home to Samoa to help secure qualification for the 2023 Rugby World Cup.
Newcastle’s Mulipola has played in two World Cups and missed the 2015 tournament due to injury but remains a significant front row force, as he showed for the Falcons in their European Challenge Cup quarter-final loss to former club Leicester on Saturday, starting as tighthead and then switching to loosehead as the match unfolded.
Despite the continuing uncertainty over travel caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the 34-year-old, who has won 33 caps for Samoa, has informed former teammate Mapusua he is committed to supporting the bid to qualify for France in 2023.
Samoa will have two chances of making the World Cup with a two-legged play-off with Tonga. The winner will take the Oceania 1 place in Pool D alongside England, Argentina and Japan plus Americas.
If they fail to emerge as winners following the home and away games with Tonga, Samoa would then taken on the Asia/Pacific qualifier with the winner of that play-off joining the difficult Pool B made up of champions South Africa, Ireland, Scotland and Europe 2.
Mulipola, who has signed a new contract with Falcons that takes him up to the 2023 World Cup finals, told RugbyPass: “I had a zoom call with Maps to see what was going on and we need to win our first qualifier.
“I will be 36 by the World Cup finals but age is just a number and when Mike Brown joins us next season (from Harlequins) he will be older than me. I will have to see if the flights are open for me to return home and I would love to be involved in another World Cup for Samoa.
“I would love to represent my country in another (World) Cup and this would be my third, I missed 2015 because I was injured.
“Back home everyone gets behind you for the World Cup with fundraising and it is amazing in the villages and the whole country. Our fans come from all over when we are at the World Cup and in Japan they were there even though it was so expensive to travel.”
Tonga are looking at the possibility of including players such as Charles Piutau and the controversial Israel Folau in future squads despite the fact they have played for New Zealand and Australia respectively.
Mulipola is aware of the talk and added: “I was brought up as a local player and always played for Samoa and so I don’t know the feeling of playing for another country, but it would be nice for guys who want to switch to be able to play for their countries.”
Mulipola joined Falcons in the summer of 2018 after seven seasons with Leicester, making 100 Premiership appearances for the Tigers winning the Premiership and Anglo-Welsh Cup with Leicester.
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