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International rugby league is back on Australian soil and it kicks off in a doubleheader in the suburb of Campbelltown as Samoa face off against the Cook Islands. Join The Roar for live scores from 5.40pm AEST.
Samoa have named an incredibly strong lineup, filled with plenty of NRL experience despite the absence of Jarome Luai and Stephen Crichton who are on Origin duty for New South Wales.
The backline has plenty of Penrith flavour as Charlie Staines is named at fullback , while the left edge consists of Taylan May and Izack Tago. On the right edge, Jaxson Paulo and David Nofoaluma round out the backline for Samoa. With Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow a possibility of playing for Samoa later in the year during the Rugby League World Cup, the Samoa backline will need to pull their socks up and perform well against Cook Islands to give Matt Parish a selection headache when the Hammer and Stephen Crichton join the Samoan camp.
If you thought the Samoa backline was strong, their forward pack consisting of Manly trio Martin Taupau, Josh Schuster and Josh Aloai in the starting 13 ensures Samoa has the cattle in the middle of the field to bully the Cook Islands forwards. Samoa haven’t played an international match since November 2019, however this new side should still be able to click into gear and dominate proceedings from the get go.
For the less experienced Cook Islands, they will look up to co-captains Esan Marsters in the halves and second rower Pride Petterson-Robati to lead from the front and inspire the Cook Islands team to cause an upset. Youngster Xavier Willison is named at prop while Rabbitohs forward Davvy Moale and Eels prop Makahesi Makatoa are named on the bench.
On paper, Samoa start off as huge favourites. However, rugby league isn’t played on paper is it? Despite this, Samoa have firepower from 1-17 with plenty of first grade experience and should the contest get close in the final twenty minutes, Samoa will have their seasoned pros pull them through the finish line.
Samoa by 12+
1. Charlie Staines,2. Taylan May, 3. Izack Tago, 4. Jaxson Paulo, 5. David Nofoaluma, 6. Chanel Harris-Tavita, 7. Anthony Milford, 8. Martin Taupau,9. Jazz Tevaga, 10. Francis Molo, 11. Josh Schuster, 12. Jaydn Su’A, 13. Josh Aloiai, 14. Fa’amanau Brown, 15. Keenan Palasia, 16. Spencer Leniu, 17. Bunty Afoa,
1. Kayal Iro, 2. Steven Marsters, 3. Anthony Gelling, 4. Reuben Rennie, 5. Malachi Morgan, 6. Esan Marsters, 7. Reece Joyce, 8. Vincent Rennie, 9. Aaron Teroi, 10. Xavier Willison, 11. Brendan Piakura, 12. Pride Pettersen-Robati, 13. Tinirau Arona, 14. Brodie Tamarua, 15. Moses Noovao-McGreal, 16. Makahesi Makatoa, 17. Davvy Moale,