Toa Samoa player Faamanu ‘Nu’ Brown has posted an applogy on social media, asking the tapuaiga of Samoa to forgive them for the 60-6 loss at the hands of England in the opener of the League World Cup.
The 27-year-old Christchurch-born Wests Tigers lock says, “Samoa forgive us.”
“Samoa faamagalo ia matou. War aint over”
In another post Josh Aloiai asks Samoa to “please stay with us”.
“We’ve seen how hard you’ve gotten behind us this far and we WILL show you how much it means to us the rest of this tournament.”
The only team to have not played a warm up match leading up to the World Cup, the star studded Toa Samoa side have called on Samoans across the globe to remain with them, as they regroup and focus on the next match against Greece.
The Toa Samoa are still very much in contention for a quarter final spot, however, the players may be responding to a host of negative comments by members of the Samoan community living around the world. Comments making fun of the Toa Samoa, calling for the sacking of Head Coach Matt Parish, and a meme in the local daily newspaper have been noticed by the side.
Samoa’s Rugby League World Cup squad includes a host of big names coming off successful NRL seasons for their respective clubs. Players who would have been considered by Australia and New Zealand, but opted to play for Samoa despite much lower pay and less fancy conditions due to limited resources.
The majority of Toa Samoa’s starting squad is made up of players from the Penrith Panthers, who’ve consistntly been the best team in the NRL for the past 3 years.
From the Panthers, the Toa Samoa line-up includes New South Wales representatives Jarome Lua’i, Brian To’o and Stephen Crichton. They are joined by fellow Penrith team mates Spencer Leniu, Taylan May and Izack Tago.
The most riveting name among this years Toa Samoa debutants is Roosters teenage sensation, 19-year-old Joseph Suali’i. It seemed Australian rugby league commentators were ok with the movement by players with Samoan heritage to represent their parents’ and grandparents’ countries, until Suali’is decision, which copped the most criticism.
Suali’i spoke out to explain the decision was one of the most difficult he’s had to make thus far in his career, but said it was more than football. He reminisced about growing up and seeing his father’s loyalty to Samoan representative teams, driving for miles across Australia to watch a Manu Samoa match.
“For family reasons, I have decided to pledge my allegiance to Samoa for the upcoming World Cup,” Suaalii told the media.
“I have been humbled by the respect shown to me and my family by Kangaroos coach Mal Meninga.. I can’t thank him enough for considering me but this is about more than football. This is about respecting my family and the sacrifices they have made for me throughout my career”.
“My grandparents still live in Samoa and I am looking forward to honouring them and my parents by pulling on the Samoan jersey”.
“One day, I hope to play for Australia. I truly believe Samoa can do great things at this World Cup and I can’t wait to be part of it,” the youngster had said at the time.
Josh Papali’i is another big name in this years squad. Papali’i plays prop for the Canberra Raiders and features in the State of Origin for the Queensland Maroons.
Pairing Papali’i in the prop position is NSW Blues and Parramatta Eels enforcer Junior Paulo. Both Papali’i and Paulo would easily have been selected in the Kangaroos side, had they not opted for Samoa.
The Toa Samoa suffered three potential World Cup ending injuries during the 60-6 opener against England.
Tyrone May was stretchered from the field in the second half with an injury that was later confirmed to have been a dislocated hip. He was visibly in pain and those who attended to him held his leg up as he came off the field.
Braden Hamlin-Uele came off during the first half with a calf injury and Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow suffered a syndesmosis injury and will miss the rest of the campaign in England.
“It wasn’t the result we wanted,” a disappointed Matt Parish said in his post-match conference.
“England played very well and we had a few injuries and setbacks. They got a lot of momentum.
“We’re not looking for excuses or anything like that, we didn’t have much luck injury wise. We rolled in here this morning with a good team and we’ve still got a good team,” said the Toa Samoa Head Coach.
Samoa are still very much still in contention for a quarter final position, with upcoming pool matches against Greece at Doncaster on 23 October, and France in Warrington on October 30th.