Vaovasamanaia Names a Strong Team for First Match of Northern Hemisphere Tour

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Vaovasamanaia Seilala Mapusua has named a strong team to take on Italy in the first of three Test matches of the Northern Hemisphere tour.

Currently 11th in Rugby World standings, Samoa will take on 14th ranked Italy this Saturday in Padua.

Michael Alalatoa maintains the captaincy role for the Manu and he is joined in the front row by Jordan Lay and Seilala Lam.

Moamoa Rooster’s Theo MacFarland who has soared his career since moving to Europe will start at No6 with Sa Jordan Taufua at open side.

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Brumbies Super Rugby centre/fly half Rodney Iona will start at No10 while exciting Hawke’s Bay half back Ereatara Enari starts at 9.

The Manu has an exciting backline with D’Angelo Leuila and UJ Seuteni forming a strong centre combination with Alapati Leiua and Danny Toala at the wings.

Vaovasamanaia has named one new cap in the starting 15, with four debutants looking to play their first match for the Manu from the bench.

The former Samoa Under 20s international, Brian Alainu’uese will debut at lock to pair with veteran Chris Vui.

Alainu’uese currently plays his rugby for French club Toulon. He formerly played for Waikato in New Zealand’s Mitre 10 Cup and for the Glasgow Warriors in Europe’s Pro14 championship.

Former Chiefs Super Rugby loose forward/lock Taleni Seu will look to debut off the bench as well as former Queensland Reds centre and ex-Wallabie Duncan Paia’aua.

Two debutants will be looking to debut for the Manu at age 32. Tighthead prop Jeffrey Toomaga-Allen made over 100 appearances for the Hurricanes between 2012-2019 before moving to continue his career in Europe.

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Loose forward Talalelei Gray, 32, was a member of both the Brumbies and Waratahs academies and played two seasons of Australia’s Shute Shield rugby for Easts before heading to France in 2011.

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Gray played two matches for the Waratahs in 2014 and returned to Europe in 2015 where he has since featured for Toulouse and Stade Francais.

The Manu Samoa will play a Saturday afternoon match kicking off at 2pm which is 2am early Sunday morning in Apia.