An explosive Samoan team has been named for the Pacific Nations Cup in Fiji next month.
Head Coach Seilala Mapusua announced a strong 30-man squad with 12 uncapped players, three of who will make their Samoan debut thanks to changes in World Rugby’s eligibility laws.
Three who qualify under the eligibility laws are former Wallaby flyhalf Duncan Paia’aua, former All Blacks Sevens players Fritz Lee and Lolagi Visinia.
Players like Lyon flanker and one-time All Blacks prospect Jordan Taufua, and Moana Pasifika players Ereatara Enari and Danny Toala are still uncapped.
Taufua has had more than 101 Super Rugby appearances for the Crusaders and was instrumental in the Moana Pasifika’s Super Rugby campaign.
Enari, a former New Zealand Under 20s captain led the baby All Blacks to win the Junior Rugby World Cup in 2017.
Toala was also part of the New Zealand Schools team in 2017 and a former NZ Under 20s and Hurricane’s representative.
He represented the Moana Pasifika in this year’s Super Rugby Pacific competition.
Visinia has featured for New Zealand at the U20s level. The 6’4” fullback played for the All Black Sevens a decade ago and with the Blues and the Hurricanes in Super Rugby.
Saracen’s regular starter Theodore McFarland, captain Michael Alaalatoa and Moana Pasifika’s loose trio Jack Lam, Alamanda Motuga and Henry Stowers are named as loose forwards.
There are 14 players from the Moana Pasifika side named in the squad.
Samoa has already qualified for next year’s Rugby World Cup and the PNC would serve as a venue for Mapusua to assess the new roster.
“I’m really excited at the prospect and potential of this group of players,” said Mapusua.
“We have some real experience there; we also have some young, up and coming players, who are full of enthusiasm.
“They will add a lot to this team.”
He added there were opportunities available for other players to put their hands up to feature for the side at next year’s Rugby World Cup.
“The players have to want to come and play for Manu Samoa first and foremost,” he said.
“If they’re undecided, it offers opportunities for others to impress in front of the coaches and put their best foot forward.
“There are more players, who will make themselves available but I’m trying to build for the Rugby World Cup from now and we don’t have a lot of games as it is.”
Samoa’s first game kicks-off on July 2 against Australia A at the ANZ Stadium in Suva.
A week later they face a powerful Tongan pack in Lautoka and on July 16, they face the Flying Fijians, also in Lautoka.
Aki Seiuli, Alamanda Motuga, Andrew Tuala, Chris Vui, Fritz Lee, Henry Stowers, Jack Lam, Jordan, Kalolo Tuiloma, Marco Fepulea’i, Michael Alaalatoa, Michael Curry, Raymond Niuia, Sef Faagase, Samuel Slade, Seilala Lam and Theordore Mcfarland.
AJ Alatimu, Auvasa Falealii, D’Angelo Leuila, Danny Toala, Duncan Paia’aua, Ed Fidow, Ereatara Enari, Henry Taefu, Jonathan Taumateine, Lolagi Visinia, Neria Fomai, Nigel Ah Wong and Rodney Iona.