The Samoan World Cup: 28 Samoans lining up for other nations at R.W.C.

Almost two squads' worth of players with Samoan-heritage are in Japan for the Rugby World Cup, including players for eight countries other than Samoa.

There are 28 players of Samoan-heritage among those eight sides, just three short of a full squad of 31.

Added to the 31 Manu Samoa players, that makes 59 Samoans in total selected for the Rugby World Cup, just less than one-tenth of the total 620 participants across the 20 competing nations.

There is also at least one Samoan player in almost half of the selected squads for the tournament, so the tiny island nation will have an influence on each of the four World Cup Pools.

If a theoretical squad of non-Manu Samoa Samoans was put together for the tournament, they could even be good enough to make the knockout rounds, although there is a lack of locks, loose forwards and halfbacks.

Here's what the starting XV could look like:

Front row
Scott Sio, Jordan Uelese, Nepo Laulala

Depth: Allan Alaalatoa, Angus Ta'avao, Joe Taufete'e

Both prop and hooker are positions of strength for the side, and in Nepo Laulala the team has one of the best tight head props in the world.

Locks
Patrick Tuipulotu, Lukhan Salakaia-Loto

Tuipulotu showed his quality in the All Blacks dominant Bledisloe Cup win, while Salakaia-Loto shone in the previous match in Australia. He plays at blindside flanker for the Wallabies, but is equally comfortable at lock.

Loose Forwards
Hendrik Tui, Ardie Savea, Sonny Bill Williams

The jewel in the team's crown is openside flanker Ardie Savea, arguably the best player in the world over the last 12 months. Williams is forced to the unfamiliar position of the back of the scrum due to limited depth and an overcrowded midfield; he did used to play from the back of the scrum as a lock in his rugby league days.

Halves
Richie Mo'unga, Christian Leali'ifano

The first-choice number 10s for the All Blacks and Wallabies will have to share the halfback duties between them, as there are no other options for the number nine jersey.

Centres
Bundee Aki, Anton Lienert-Brown

Depth: Timothy Lafaele, Matt To'omua

Two top-class centres from two of the World Cup favourites in Ireland and the All Blacks. The team are also spoiled to have To'omua on the bench, who is equally adept at first five.

Outside Backs
Rieko Ioane, Manu Tuilagi, Sean Maitland

Depth: Martin Iosefo, Jordan Petaia

Ioane has been out of form recently, but at his best is one of the sport's best attacking weapons. Tuilagi gets shunted out to the wing due to the crowded midfield.


Samoans in other Rugby World Cup squads:

Australia
Allan Alaalatoa (Malifa, Fasito'o-Uta)
Christian Leali'ifano (Magiagi, Letogo, Leauva'a)
Jordan Petaia
Lukhan Salakaia-Loto (Faleula)
Scott Sio (Solosolo, Vaiala)
Matt To'omua (Letui)
Jordan Uelese (Leauva'a, A'ufaga)

England
Manu Tuilagi (Fatausi-Fogapoa, Lalomalava)

Ireland
Bundee Aki

Japan
Timothy Lafaele (Siumu)
Hendrik Tui

New Zealand
Rieko Ioane (Pu'apu'a, Manono)              
Nepo Laulala (Sa'anapu, Siusega, Afega, Saleimoa, Sapapali'i)
Anton Lienert-Brown (Lepea)
Richie Mo'unga (Vailele)
Ardie Savea (Siumu)
Angus Ta'avao
Patrick Tuipulotu (Apolima)
Sonny Bill Williams

Scotland
Sean Maitland

Tonga
Malietoa Hingano (Utuali'i)

USA
David Ainu'u
Olive Kilifi
Titi Lamositele
Martin Iosefo
Thretton Palamo
Joe Taufete'e (Nu’uuli)
Mike Te'o

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