Toa vs Bati: Bring it on!
A day away from the historical test match between the Toa Samoa and Fiji Bati at Apia Park, both teams can hardly wait.
For good reason. The first full-blown rugby league test match to be staged in Samoa, involving a host of N.R.L stars, is taking place at a very special time for the sport.
This week, Rugby League Samoa is celebrating its 30th birthday. The Office of the Australian High Commission hosted a reception last night to commemorate the event.
And the grand finale will be the much-anticipated clash of the titans between Samoa and Fiji tomorrow afternoon. Fans can hardly wait.
Toa Samoa Coach, Matt Parish, said the build up has been terrific and now it’s a matter of Toa Samoa putting up a performance as icing on the cake.
“It’s probably what we’ve expected and a little more,” he said.
The Toa Samoa head into tomorrow’s tussle with some unfinished business. When the two teams clashed at the World Cup, Fiji won.
Parish added that tomorrow’s game means more than the last time Toa Samoa smashed Tonga.
“This game means more to us than what that game did. Again playing anyone in the Pacific Nations and when there’s a clash it’s always a good rivalry. For us to be playing at home for the first time is a massive privilege.
“We’ll be playing a team like Fiji who are full of some great N.R.L. players and super stars. We are really looking forward to the game.
“We are under no illusion of how tough and how hard it’s going to be which I’m sure Mick’s team is,
“We are all looking forward to the occasion because Apia Park is a fantastic oval and stadium; no doubt when it’s full, which it will be on Saturday, it’s going to be a great spectacle.”
With the crowd expected to test the capacity of the stadium this Saturday, Parish says this Saturday will be a just reward for everyone behind the scenes.
“I think it’s a just reward for a lot of people and their hard work,” he said.
“There has been a lot work going to get this day happening and obviously we couldn’t have done it without the support of the N.R.L. who have been fantastic.
“I am hoping this is the start of some games right through the Pacific because the Pacific Islander, the Polynesians in the N.R.L. have got some great talent.
“I think it’s a fantastic opportunity to take it back to where their heritage lies and as I said, we’re really grateful to the N.R.L. for making the occasion happen.
“The people of Samoa need to get right behind this because it’s a momentous occasion and they’re showcasing some great talent out there.”
Fiji Bati coach, Michael Potter, said they know what to expect from Samoa but they are ready.
“We’ve had a steady build up,” he said.
“It’s going to be hot and tough for both teams. We’re looking forward to starting well. We know how tough they’re going to be so we’re just going to do our best.
“We have a bit of a plan but I’m sure Matt has got an alternative plan to counter that so it’s going to be a little bit of a cat and mouse on Saturday.”
But it’s not all big muscles and intimidating sizes with the Bati boys.
“They (Fiji Bati team) have been out and about a little bit,” Potter said.
“They spent an hour at the hospital in the kids ward. That was very humbling for them because they are a lot more soft than we know and it’s good to bring them back to earth.”