Western Force star handed debut as Samoa overhaul side for USA clash
Manu Samoa head coach Steve Jackson has rung the changes for his side’s Pacific Nations Cup clash with the United States in Suva on Saturday.
All in all, 10 changes have been made to the starting lineup, with Sale Sharks loose forward TJ Ioane and veteran lock Filo Paulo the only survivors in the forwards from last week’s 25-17 win over Tonga in Apia last week.
The new-look front row consists of the the Lay brothers, loosehead Jordan and tighthead James, while Perpignan hooker Seilala Lam has been sandwiched between them to replace the experienced Motu Matu’u.
Pairing up with Paulo in the second row is Nevers lock Senio Toleafoa, who made his international debut last week and will accompany fellow international rookie Henry Stowers in the pack.
Saturday’s match in the Fijian capital will be Stowers’ first foray in the test arena following some impressive performances for the Western Force in the Global Rapid Rugby showcase series.
He takes the blindside flanker role off of regular skipper Chris Vui, and will link up with Ioane and Piula Fa’asalele to form a promising back row trio.
In the backline, there’s a fresh halves duo, with 11-test Ponsonby halfback Pele Cowley and Western Force first-five AJ Alatimu coming into the team in place of Auvasa Faleali’i and UJ Seutini.
There are also a pair of new faces in the midfield, with star names Ray Lee-Lo and Alapati Leiua rotated out of the side to allow Force second-five Henry Taefu and Scarlets centre Kieron Fonotia their first runs of the international campaign.
Leiua, however, will retain his place in the starting side after being shifted out onto the left wing, replacing last week’s try-scoring debutant Belgium Tuatagaloa.
Right wing Johnny Vaili and fullback Ashee Tuala are two of the few players to retain their spots in the starting side.
An extended nine-man bench has also been named, with Logovi’i Mulipola, Paul Alo-Emile, Afa Amosa, Kane Leaupepe, Faleali’i and Lee-Lo all dropped to the reserves from last week’s starting XV.
Mont-de-Marsan outside back JJ Taulagi holds onto the No 23 jersey, while experienced flanker Jack Lam has been included in the match day squad for the first time this year, although he could still be cut as one player from the reserves bench will need to be omitted.
Samoa side to face the USA:
1. Jordan Lay, 2. Seilala Lam, 3. James Lay, 4. Filo Paulo, 5. Senio Toleafoa, 6. Henry Stowers, 7. TJ Ioane, 8. Piula Fa’asalele, 9. Pele Cowley, 10. AJ Alatimu, 11. Alapati Leiua, 12. Henry Taefu, 13. Kieran Fonotia, 14. Johnny Vaili, 15. Ashee Tuala.
Reserves: 16. Elia Elia, 17. Logovi’i Mulipola, 18. Paul Alo-Emile, 19. Jack Lam, 20. Afa Amosa, 21. Auvasa Faleali’i, 22. Ray Lee-Lo, 23. JJ Taulagi, 24. Kane Leaupepe.
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