The Chairman of Lakapi Samoa, Tuilaepa Dr Sailele Maliegaoi, today announced the Manu Samoa 15s squad for the upcoming Pacific Nations Cup (PNC) to be played in the first three weekends of July in Fiji.
Manu Samoa’s Head Coach Vaovasamanaia Seilala Mapusua has selected a 30-man squad, 12 of them uncapped players for the Manu including Ereatara Enari, Danny Toala, Jordan Taufua and Lolagi Visinia.
Ereatara Enari is a former New Zealand Under 20s captain who led the side when the baby All Blacks were crowned champions of the Junior Rugby World Cup in 2017.
The 25 year old had played for the Crusaders during their 5-year Super Rugby Championship run.
Enari played 11 matches for the Moana Pasifika this year and prior that selection, he impressed at halfback for Hawkes Bay in its successful NPC season last year.
Joining Enari in the blue jersey for the first time is Hawkes Bay team mate, Danny Toala. Toala is a Hawkes Bay local and played his high school rugby for Hastings Boys High School.
Toala earned himself selection for New Zealand Schools in 2017. The utility back is also a former NZ Under 20s and Hurricane’s representative.
Similar to Enari, Toala has since made the move to play for Moana Pasifika in this year’s Super Rugby Pasifika.
Lolagi Visinia has made the allegiance switch from New Zealand to Samoa with his naming today. Visinia, like Toala and Enari, has represented New Zealand at the U20s level and currently plays his NPC rugby for Hawkes Bay.
The 6’4” fullback played for the New Zealand 7’s back in 2012 and has now fulfilled the required stand-down period to swap the black jersey for the blue, under amendments to World Rugby’s Regulation 8.
Visinia has played quality level rugby with both the Blues and the Hurricanes at the Super Rugby level.
In addition to these star-studded backs, Mapusua has named powerful loose forward Jordan Taufua in the squad for the first time.
The 30 year old is a well established footy player having played 100+ super rugby matches for the Crusaders. Despite being uncapped, Taufua isn’t a stranger to the blue jersey, having represented Samoa at the Under 20s level.
Mapusua has named a strong foward pack ahead of their matches against Tonga, Australia A and Fiji.
Joining Taufua in the “engine room” for Samoa are Saracen’s regular starter Theodore McFarland, Captain Michael Alaalatoa and Moana Pasifika’s loose trio in Jack Lam, Alamanda Motuga and Henry Time-Stowers.
There are altogether 14 players from the Moana Pasifika side who were named in the Manu squad today.
In announcing the squad, Lakapi Samoa’s Chairman said the efforts by Tier 2 nations especially Samoa to lobby for amendments to Regulation 8 has made an immediate impact on Samoa’s selection.
Regulation 8 had previously been a “one team for life” rule and Tuilaepa said Samoa has been able to immediately apply the law changes and secure players under the recent changes.
“There are two players that have been selected under Regulation 8,” said Tuilaepa. “They are Fritz Lee and Lolagi Visinia”.
Fritz Lee being another All Blacks 7s player who has satisfied the three year stand-down period.
Tuilaepa acknowledged the support of Lakapi Samoa sponsors and the Government of Samoa for the annual allocation towards the development of rugby included in the recently announced budget estimates.