While the NRL season is still kicking on, it is hard not to turn your attention to the end-of-year World Cup, in which everyone seems to care more for eligibility of players, more than the games.
Yes, this article is about the eligibility of a possible Samoan force that could shake up the World Cup, just like Tonga did in 2017.
Before I start the bulk of this article however, I will say this will not come to fruition if Matt Parish is still at the helm. He is stale, outdone and not wanted.
Please, for the love of the game, Samoan Rugby League, please get rid of Parish and consider the many other offers going around such as the Johns brothers and Sonny Bill Williams. Tonga allowed it to happen in 2017 and now they’re a force to be reckoned with. Please, let’s follow suit.
Now, back to the topic at hand. Potential, potential and potential. This Samoan side could be something so special to behold.
If you start at fullback, Jamayne Isaako stands out, with plenty of other options like teammates Karmichael Hunt and Anthony Milford, and Panthers Tyrone May and Charlie Staines.
The key, however, is to somehow interest superstar Roger Tuivasa-Sheck to change allegiance on his way out to rugby. If Samoa can poke his interest, that changes the whole dynamic of the Samoan side.
Outside backs are more than capable of producing a strong back line. Names such as Brian To’o, Stephen Crichton, David Nofoaluma, Ronaldo Mulitalo, Ken Maumalo, Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow, Jorge Taufua and young gun Joseph Suaalii just to name a few will keep the selectors busy, with a plethora to pick from to create a strong four-man outside back squad.
The halves have never been the Pacific Island nations’ strong suits, but given Samoa have an Origin player at their disposal in Jarome Luai, to potentially partner with the likes of Chanel Harris-Tavita or Dylan Brown, that is very exciting to Samoan fans.
Onto the forwards, there is an absolute plethora of strong and great forwards to choose from. From the players who have opted allegiance to Samoa already, there are Origin players like Josh Papali’i, Junior Paulo, Tino Fa’asuamaleaui and Josh McGuire mixed with the likes of international veterans Martin Taupau, Nelson Asofa-Solomona and Leeson Ah Mau, mixed with the likes of young rising stars such as Luciano Leilua, Isaiah Papali’i, Moses Leota, Jaydn Su’A, Josh Schuster and Francis Molo.
Forwards are not the issue for Samoa, that is for sure!
The one name missing from this entire mix is Payne Haas. He is eligible to play for Samoa, but has not committed as of yet. If Haas commits, that forward pack becomes as formidable as any pack, maybe even the Tongan one.
With this all being said, the names are there. The talent is there. The potential for this team is very 2017 Tonga-like, and the only thing standing in the way is players’ preferences (or tier-one teams poaching).
The fact that Australia and New Zealand can entice some of these players with the money is always going to be an issue. Players like Luai, To’o, Haas and Fa’asuamaleaui are definitely on the radar for Australia.
Players like Asofa-Solomona, Maumalo, Brown and Tuivasa-Sheck are definitely on the radar for New Zealand, thus deflating a lot of the potential talent for this Samoan side.
Whether or not players want to play for Samoa is another thing, but just look at what Tonga did in 2017, and if that doesn’t inspire you, then maybe you shouldn’t play for a country as passionate as Samoa.
The potential game-day 17 is absolutely lethal. Given all players commit, this is who I would play on game day.
1. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck
2. Jamayne Isaako
3. Stephen Crichton
4. David Nofoaluma
5. Brian To’o
6. Dylan Brown
7. Jarome Luai
8. Payne Haas
9. Chanel Harris-Tavita
10. Josh Papali’i
11. Isaiah Papali’i
12. Jaydn Su’A
13. Tino Fa’asuamaleaui
14. Jazz Tevaga
15. Martin Taupau
16. Nelson Asofa-Solomona
17. Junior Paulo
That side on paper alone? Sheesh. It would be tough to compete with!
C’mon Samoa, let’s ditch Parish, take up the Johns boys’ offer, get these players passionate for the blue jersey, commit to Samoa for this year’s World Cup and let’s shake up the World Cup to its core!