Manu Samoa 15s Head Coach Vaovasamanaia Seilala Mapusua has announced his Pre-Rugby World Cup squad for upcoming fixtures against Japan, Tonga, Fiji and Ireland.
Headlining the announcement are former All Blacks, Charlie Faumuina and Lima Sopoaga, with the inclusion of former Wallaby Christian Leali’ifano and Moana Pasefika’s Miracle Fai’ilagi.
Faumuina had an illustrious career for New Zealand rugby starting in Auckland’s National Provincial Championship squad for 49 caps.
In that time he earned himself a Super Rugby debut for the Blues in 2009 and three years later, Faumuina was selected to be an All Black.
The 50 test All Black prop from Vaimoso and Gagaifo Lefaga will look to represent Samoa in July and then onto the RWC.
Named alongside him is 26 test Wallaby Christian Leali’ifano, who is currently playing his rugby for Moana Pasifika.
Leali’ifano is an experienced first five-eight notching 170 Super Rugby matches under his belt.
The man from Magiagi and Letogo owns an inspirational story when he was diagnosed with Leukaemia. In 2019 Leali’ifano announced he was in remission and soon made his return to rugby.
Arguably the biggest new name is Lima Sopoaga.
Sopoaga comes from the villages of Papa Sataua and Sa’anapu.
He is a Super Rugby Champion with the Highlanders in 2015, but currently plays his professional rugby in France.
The Fly-half attempted to play for the Samoa 7’s in 2021, utilising the Olympic loophole to qualify for Manu Samoa test matches. However his schedule just did not align with the Manu 7’s.
He will now have his opportunity to finally don the blue jersey at the international level.
Samoan bred sensation Miracle Fai’ilagi, to no-one’s surprise, has also been selected to make his Manu Samoa debut.
Fai’ilagi earned a Moana Pasifika contract through the World Rugby Pacific combine last year, and has sinced showed the world why he was Samoa’s hottest local prospect.
The Vailele-Laulii loose forward from Uafato took out the Rookie of the Year award for Moana Pasifika after his spectacular season.
A press statement confirms the Pre-Rugby World Cup campaign is slated to start with a team camp in Samoa from the 1st of
The Manu will play Japan on
the 22nd of July in Hokkaido, Japan before two test matches in Apia agains Fiji on the 29th of July and Tonga on the 5th of August.
Manu Samoa will finish its preparatory stage with a final match against world number one ranked Ireland, on the 26th of August in France.
The final RWC squad is expected to be named before the team travel to France.
“Vaovasamanaia is looking forward to building the team having named a balanced mix of up-and coming players with more experienced ones,” states the press release.
“The majority of the team is based in the Northern Hemisphere and includes nine uncapped players hoping to make their debut for Samoa, with six players having switched to represent Samoa under the World Rugby eligibility rules.”
Vaovasamanaia says, “I am excited for what’s ahead and putting in the work with the team to prepare us for a challenging pool at the Rugby World Cup, and our test matches in the pre-RWC provide opportunities to build a solid unit towards our goal.”
“It should also be noted that this is the first time Manu Samoa has assembled in Samoa since 2019, and it will be a special time for the team to be around our families, our villages and our people,” Vaovasamanaia added.
Faleomavaega Vincent Fepuleai, CEO of Lakapi Samoa says, “We are thrilled to welcome the team back to our shores and we are counting on two very tough and thrilling matches against Fiji and
Tonga, our traditional Pacific rivals as this will add to their preparations for rugby’s pinnacle event in France.”
Manu Samoa 15s Schedule – Mark Your Calendars!
Saturday July 22nd:
Samoa vs Japan
Saturday July 29th:
Samoa vs Fiji
Saturday August 5th:
Samoa vs Tonga
Saturday August 12th:
Samoa vs Ireland