Christchurch City Council
Via Rugby League World Cup 2017 Media
Rugby League Samoa president Tagaloa Faafouina Su'a announced the squad in Samoa on Friday for the tournament, which will be played in Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea between 27 October and 2 December.
The squad includes three Christchurch-born players – Hornby Panthers product Fa'amanu Brown, ex-Burnham Chevalier Jazz Tevaga and Sydenham Swans junior Pita Godinet. There's a good chance the trio will be coming back to where it all began next month, with Samoa well in the frame to qualify for the AMI Stadium-hosted quarter-final on November 18.
The squad will be led by Pritchard, the 33-year-old who returned to the NRL from the English Super League to join Parramatta this season. He represented New Zealand at the 2013 Cup and has played 27 Tests for the Kiwis, as well as five Tests for Samoa. Papalii, who has played eight Tests for Australia including this year’s clash with the Kiwis in May, will represent Samoa for the first time and will play alongside Canberra teammates Junior Paulo and Joey Leilua in a strong Toa Samoan side with extensive NRL and Super League experience but a blend of youth.
Zane Musgrove, Jazz Tevaga and Jarome Luai are other newcomers to the Toa Samoa squad, while Joseph Paulo returns to the side for the first time since 2010 after captaining the United States at the 2013 World Cup.
Ben Roberts, Leeson Ah Mau, Peter and Sione Mata’utia, Sam Tagataese and Tautau Moga add further experience to the squad.
The former Canterbury Bulldogs half Roberts has had an outstanding season with runaway Super League ladder leaders Castleford who take on Leeds in the grand final this weekend. He has played 12 Tests for Samoa, including the 2008 World Cup, and five for New Zealand.
While some players from the Pacific Test against England in May are unavailable, including Anthony Milford (injured), Josh McGuire (Australia) and Isaac Liu (New Zealand), Toa Samoa will field a strong squad and take on New Zealand (Auckland, 28 October), Tonga (Hamilton, NZ, 4 November) and Scotland (Cairns, 11 November).
Yet coach Matt Parish says he has assembled a strong, experienced squad with the desire to represent Samoa evident in the disappointed of several NRL player 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 assemble in Sydney next Tuesday and play a Country Rugby League side in Wagga on Friday, October 13 at McDonalds Park (7pm).
Rugby League Samoa president Tagaloa Faafouina Su'a said team work would be the focus of the preparations for the squad leading up to the opening game against the Kiwis.
“Teamwork requires sacrifice upfront and putting the collective needs of the team ahead of any individual. There is no ‘I’ in team but there is ‘I’ in ‘WIN’,” he said.
The 24-man Samoan squad is: