N.R.L. kicks off with Samoans making up over 16% of playing squads.
Eighty Samoans will be taking part in the 2020 National Rugby League (N.R.L.) season which starts/started on Thursday night, more than 16% of the total player base.
That’s almost enough to field two full squads of 30 players from Samoan heritage players alone.
Among the 80 are 43 either current or former Toa Samoa representatives, along with stars Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and Payne Haas who play for New Zealand and Australia internationally.
The 2020 N.R.L. season opens/opened on Thursday night with the Parramatta Eels hosting the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs at Bankwest Stadium in Sydney.
Samoans Dylan Brown and Junior Paulo were named to start for the Eels at five-eighth and prop respectively, while the Bulldogs started Christian Crichton on the wing, and both Renouf To’omaga and Raymond Faitala-Mariner from the bench.
The Canberra Raiders will play the Gold Coast Titans on Friday night, with Toa Samoa pair Josh Papalii and Dunamis Lui partnering each other at prop and Iosia Soliola coming off the bench.
Phillip Sami and Sam Lisone have both been picked to start for the Titans at fullback and prop respectively.
The other Friday night game is an all-Queensland affair between the North Queensland Cowboys and Brisbane Broncos.
Toa Samoa prop John Asiata will start with Francis Molo coming off the bench for the Cowboys, who will be up against Toa pair Anthony Milford and Jamayne Isaako for the Broncos, as well as Payne Haas.
The first of three games on Saturday is between the Newcastle Knights and the New Zealand Warriors, with eight Samoans on either side of the clash.
Enari Tuala, Hymel Hunt and Herman Ese’ese all start for Newcastle at centre, wing and lock, while the Warriors are starting Roger Tuivasa-Sheck at fullback in addition to Toa Samoa players past and present Ken Maumalo, Chanel Harris-Tavita, Leeson Ah Mau and Isaiah Papali’i.
Toa second rower Jaydn Su’A will start for the South Sydney Rabbitohs, who take on the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks, including winger Ronaldo Mulitalo and interchange Braden Hamlin-Uele.
The Penrith Panthers play the Sydney Roosters on Saturday night, with Toa Samoa wing and five-eighth Brian To’o and Jahrome Luai both given starts.
Stephen Crichton and Moses Leota are both on the bench for the Panthers, opposite the Roosters Toa Samoa man Isaac Liu.
On Sunday, the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles will start all three of their Toa Samoa reps in Jorge Taufua, Danny Levi and Martin Taupau at wing, hooker and prop against the Melbourne Storm, who have named Marion Seve at centre and Tino Fa’asuamaleaui on the bench.
And the final game of Round One sees the St George Illawarra Dragons meet the Wests Tigers.
Jordan Pereira and Timoteo Lafai both start at wing and centre for the Dragons, who have also named Tyrell Fuimaono to the bench.
On the other side Toa Samoa players David Nofoaluma, Joseph Leilua, Josh Aloiai and Luciano Leilua all start at wing, centre, prop and second row, while Thomas Mikaele and Zane Musgrove will come off the bench.