31 August 2019 Auckland NZ. Manu Samoa named its final rugby world cup squad following a 36-19 win over a strong New Zealand Heartland XV in Auckland yesterday.
Samoa Rugby Union Chair and Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sailele Malielegaoi, flanked by Coach Steve Jackson and Manager Vaaelua Aloi Alesana announced the team from inside the media room of Eden Park stadium.
The squad includes 23 players who will be going to a Rugby World Cup for the first time and 2 players who debuted in the non-test match against NZ Heartland. Michael Alalatoa scored 2 tries against NZ Heartland while Reds halfback Scott Malolua came off the bench for his debut.
Of the 34 players camped in Auckland, the three who miss out are Western Force flanker Henry Stowers, and 2 locals – Aana Chiefs hooker and Samoa A captain Afa Aiono and Southern Tornadoes power forward and 7s star Tofatuimoana Solia.
Hookers Lead by vice captain Motu Matu’u, Manu Samoa’s hookers look solid. Matu’u played in the 2015 RWC, and has been part of the team every year since. Matuu brings super rugby experience and is backed up by Seilala Lam who plays his rugby with Perpignan, France and Raymond Niuia of the Otago Highlanders.
Locks Only 3 locks have been named in the Manu Samoa World Cup squad. Twin towers from the north and south hemispheres – Kane Leaupepe of Super Rugby’s Hurricanes and Teofilo Paulo of London Irish in England will be Samoa’s specialist locks. Newcomer Senio Toleafoa, 25, plays for Nevers in France. The Australian born managed to play U20s for both Samoa and Australia.
Midfield Rey Lee-Lo will go to his 2nd World Cup for Samoa joined in the mid-field by Alapati Leiua. Known to Manu Samoa fans as a former Wellington Hurricane, Alapati Leiua played 5 years of Super Rugby for the Hurricanes before signing a European contract and choosing Manu Samoa over possible All Blacks selection. Leiua and Lee-Lo have built quite a combination over the years. Former Crusaders midfield Kieron Fonotia first joined the Manu in 2017 as did Henry Taefu. Taefu plays centre for Western Force and will be going to his first World Cup campaign.
The Manu Samoa gets a final hit out against Australia in Syndey this weekend before the Rugby World cup where they face Russia, Scotland, Japan and Ireland in Pool A.
GAME 1: Tue 24 Sep 2019 @7:15pm – Russia vs Manu Samoa – Kumagaya Rugby Stadium.
GAME 2: Mon 30 Sep 2019 @7:15pm – Scotland vs Manu Samoa – Kobe Misaki Stadium.
GAME 3: Sat 05 October 2019 @7:30pm – Japan vs Manu Samoa – City of Toyota Stadium.
GAME 4: Sat 12 October 2019 @7:45pm – Ireland vs Manu Samoa – Fukuoka Hakatanomori Stadium.