Vodafone Warriors Bunty Afoa, Sam Lisone, Ken Maumalo and Jazz Tevaga have been named in Toa Samoa’s 24-man squad for the Rugby League World Cup.
The Samoans open their campaign against the Kiwis at Mount Smart Stadium on Saturday, October 28 (8.10pm kick-off).
Props Afoa and Lisone, wing Maumalo and utility forward Tevaga join three former Vodafone Warriors in the side – front rower Leeson Ah Mau (St George Illawarra Dragons), Pita Godinet (Manly Sea Eagles) and Suaia Matagi (Parramatta Eels).
The side is captained by former Kiwi Frank Pritchard and also includes Australian international Josh Papalii.
Papalii, who has played eight Tests for Australia, will represent Samoa for the first time and will play alongside Canberra team-mates Junior Paulo and Joey Leilua in a strong Toa Samoan side with extensive NRL and Super League experience as well as a blend of youth.
Tevaga, Mangere East junior Zane Musgrove and Junior Kiwi Jarome Luai are other newcomers to the Toa Samoa squad, while Joseph Paulo returns to the side for the first time since 2010.
Ben Roberts, Ah Mau, Peter and Sione Mata’utia, Sam Tagataese and Tautau Moga add further experience to the squad.
Former Canterbury Bulldogs half and ex-Kiwi Roberts has had an outstanding season with runaway Super League ladder leader Castleford which takes on Leeds in the grand final this weekend. He has played 12 Tests for Samoa, including the 2008 World Cup.
Samoa coach Matt Parish says he has assembled a strong, experienced squad with the desire to represent Samoa as evident in the disappointment of several NRL players who missed selection.
“Despite some players being unavailable due to injury we have a very strong squad that will do Samoa proud,” said Parish of the squad that will take on the Kiwis (Auckland on October 28), Tonga (Hamilton on November 4) and Scotland (Cairns on November 11).
“It’s a tough group but these boys have lifted before when they have put on the Samoan jersey, and there is a lot of competitiveness to gain selection. I’m looking forward to seeing what they can do.”
The Samoa squad will assemble in Sydney next Tuesday and play a country rugby league side in Wagga Wagga on Friday, October 13 at McDonald’s Park (7pm).
RLWC2017 | TOA SAMOA
Frank Pritchard (Parramatta Eels) captain
Bunty Afoa (Vodafone Warriors)
Leeson Ah Mau (St George Illawarra Dragons)
Faámanu Brown (Cronulla Sharks)
Herman Ese’ese (Brisbane Broncos)
Pita Godinet (Manly Sea Eagles)
Joey Leilua (Canberra Raiders)
Ricky Leutele (Cronulla Sharks)
Sam Lisone (Vodafone Warriors)
Jarome Luai (Penrith Panthers)
Suaia Matagi (Parramatta Eels)
Peter Mata’utia (Newcastle Knights)
Sione Mata’utia (Newcastle Knights)
Ken Maumalo (Vodafone Warriors)
Tautau Moga (Brisbane Broncos)
Zane Musgrove (South Sydney Rabbitohs)
Josh Papalii (Canberra Raiders)
Joseph Paulo (Cronulla Sharks)
Junior Paulo (Canberra Raiders)
Ben Roberts (Castleford Tigers)
Sam Tagataese (Cronulla Sharks)
Jazz Tevaga (Vodafone Warriors)
Young Tonumaipea (Melbourne Storm)
Matthew Wright (Manly Sea Eagles)
TOA SAMOA AT RLWC2017 | POOL GAMES
v New Zealand Kiwis
8.10pm, Saturday, October 28
Mount Smart Stadium, Auckland
v Mate Ma’a Tonga
7.30pm, Saturday, November 4
FMG Waikato Stadium, Hamilton
v Scotland Bravehearts
5.00pm, Saturday, November 11
Barlow Park, Cairns