Samoans set to influence N.Z.'s Mitre 10 Cup
New Zealand’s provincial rugby competition, the Mitre 10 Cup, begins this week, and plenty of Samoan players will look to push for a World Cup berth through the tournament.
Six former Manu Samoa players have been named in the 14 province’s squads, while another in loose forward Iakopo Mapu is waiting on a work visa before he can suit up for the Hawke’s Bay Magpies.
He hopes to join utility back Stacey Ili in the Magpies squad (the pair were teammates on Manu Samoa’s November tour last year), while another back Neria Fomai used to represent Samoa in 7s.
Another ex-Samoa 7s player halfback Danny Tusitala played for the Manu 15s in 2016, and he will represent Auckland along with former Manu first five D’Angelo Leuila.
Auckland are coached by former Manu coach Alama Ieremia, and have also picked a host of former Samoa U20 players in their squad; Jarred Adams, Marco Fepuleai, Ezekiel Lindenmuth, Tanielu Tele’a and Salesi Rayasi.
North Harbour lock Ben Nee-Nee was on the Manu Samoa November tour as well, while Otago prop Hisa Sasagi was originally named to be part of the current Manu Pacific Nations Cup squad.
Former Manu flanker Galu Taufale heads up a strong Samoan contingent in the Wellington squad, which also features former Samoa U20 players Pepesana Patafilo and Losi Filipo.
Manu Samoa coach Vaeluagaomatagi Steve Jackson said there are players outside his Pacific Nations Cup squad in contention to go to the Rugby World Cup in September.
“There are still other players that are of interest to us.
“This is the P.N.C. squad, there are some players here that we wanted to have a good look at, and let them push their claims for Rugby World Cup.”
He said they will need a group of 40+ players they can count on for the World Cup campaign, with injuries likely.
Samoan-eligible players in the Mitre 10 Cup:
Bay of Plenty