Two new caps in Manu team to play Wallabies
Michael Alaalatoa and Scott Malolua will earn their first test caps for the Manu Samoa this weekend against Australia in Sydney.
They are both in head coach Vaeluagaomatagi Steve Jackson’s starting XV for Saturday night's kickoff (10:30 pm Samoan time).
There is no room in the 23 for injured loose forward, Piula Fa’asalele, nor Chris Vui, whose fitness has also been the subject of speculation.
TJ Ioane is brought in to start at blindside flanker, while Afaesetiti Amosa will anchor the scrum having missed out on last week’s game against the New Zealand Heartland XV.
Highlanders hooker Ray Niuia comes into the side at hooker, and both the other contestants for the number two jersey Motu Matu’u and Seilala Lam have been named on the bench.
Tusi Pisi will start at first five, replacing Ulupano Seuteni who drops out of the team, while wing Belgium Tuatagaloa gets the 14 jersey over the benched Ahsee Tuala.
Reds halfback Malolua will start in his test debut, and Vaeluaga said both he and Alaalatoa deserve their opportunity:
“We’ve selected a team based on training and match performances," he said.
“The final selection was really difficult to make with every position tightly contested within the squad.”
He said that tight competition gives him an experienced bench as well; players who can come into the game and help the Manu finish strongly.
Vaeluaga said he is expecting a physical challenge against the Wallabies.
“It’s going to be tough - being Sekope Kepu’s last home game in a Wallaby jersey and the return of David Pocock.
“But if we are able to play our brand of rugby then I’m confident we can get the result that we want.
“This is going to be a huge game in a fantastic stadium and some of our boys are really excited about their first time against a Tier 1 team.”
The Manu Samoa team to play the Wallabies in Sydney is;
1. Jordan Lay
2. Ray Niuia
3. Michael Alaalatoa
4. Teofilo Paulo
5. Kane Le’aupepe
6. TJ Ioane
7. Jack Lam (captain)
8. Afaesetiti Amosa
9. Scott Malolua
10. Tusi Pisi
11. Ed Fidow
12. Reynold Lee-Lo
13. Alapati Leiua
14. Belgium Tuatagaloa
15. Tim Nanai-Williams.
16. Motu Matuu
17. Paul Alo-Emile
18. Logovii Mulipola
19. Josh Tyrell
20. Seilala Lam
21. Dwayne Polataivao
22. AJ Alatimu
23. Ah See Tuala
Not selected: James Lay, Vaitoasa Senio Toleafoa, Piula Fa’asalele, Chris Vui, Melani Matavao, Ulupano Seuteni, Kieron Fonotia, Henry Taefu