One Local Player in Samoa’s Rugby World Cup Squad

Melani Matavao, 23, is also the youngest player in the Samoa RWC squad.

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.

Tofatoimoana Solia makes a break against NZ Heartland yesterday.    PC Newshub

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.

Headlined by Super Rugby Champion and Crusaders prop Michael Alaalatoa, Manu Samoa has named a strong group of props. Alongside Alaalatoa is Logovii Mulipola who is entering his 3rd World Cup campaign with the Manu. Lay brothers James and Jordan have been with the Manu Samoa since 2017 and have 20 test matches between them.
Michael is the older brother of Wallaby Allan Alalaatoa.

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.

Loose Fowards
Captain Jack Lam is one of six loose forwards named in Jackson’s side. Only he and TJ Ioane survive from the 2015 World Cup. Chris Vui, Piula Faasalele, Josh Tyrell and Afaesetiti Amosa will all be new comers to the World Cup stage. According to management Piula Faasaelele still seen with a cast on his arm from an injury during the USA match will be given the all-clear this week.
Captain Jack Lam during Northern Hemisphere tour 2018.
The only local based Samoan player named in the 31-man squad is found in the halfbacks. Melani Matavao has come through Samoa’s PPS Super 9 competiton as a key player for the Aana Chiefs. He played for the Manu Samoa 7s and at 23, he is also the youngest member of the squad. Dwayne Polataivao was first selected into the Manu Samoa in 2016 and now plays his rugby for Doncaster in England while Scott Malolua debuted for the Manu Samoa in yesterday’s match against NZ Heartland.
Dwayne Polataivao
First five-eight
Perhaps the most discussed position in this team with Coach Steve Jackson naming 37-year old Tusi Pisi for his 3rd World Cup campaign for Samoa.
Veteran Tusi Pisi gets the nod for RCW 2015.
AJ Alatimu played for the Samoa U20s in 2012 and was first called into the Manu Samoa for the Northern Hemisphere tour of 2017.  25-year old Ulupano ‘UJ’ Seuteni is a recent debutant for the Manu Samoa who plays for Bordeaux Begles in France. He was a member of the Australian U20s in 2012.
Ulupano UJ Seuteni plays for Bordeaux Begles n France.

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.

Former Wellington Hurricane Alapati Leiua

Outside Backs

Seasoned veteran Tim Nanai Williams will attend his second World Cup in the blue jersey. Ed Fidow rejoins the squad after being recently signed by Worcester from a D2 French club. Veteran winger Belgium Tuatagaloa adds to an experienced outside backs line-up.
Afaesetiti Amosa

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.