Penrith stars Izack Tago, Taylan May, Charlie Staines and Spencer Leniu are part of a strong and exciting Toa Samoa squad named for the upcoming Pacific Test against the Cook Islands at Campbelltown Sports Stadium.
Samoa coach Matt Parish picked a 20-man squad for the June 25 test but decided not to include any of the Pacific nation’s eligible players who took part in the State of Origin opener. last week because he didn’t want to put unnecessary pressure on them.
Players eligible for NSW or Queensland, as well as Samoa, can play Origin and still represent their legacy at the season-ending World Cup in England.
“We are proud of all the players of Samoan descent playing on all teams in the upcoming representative round,” Parish said.
“Out of respect for the players involved in State of Origin, we have not considered any players selected from the NSW or Queensland squads for Game I.
“However, should they become available for Pacific testing, we would consider late modifications to include them.”
The move has created opportunities for other players to represent Samoa and highlights the wealth of talent likely to be available to Parish and his coaching staff at the World Cup.
Tago, May, Staines and Leniu are among the players set to make their Test debuts for Samoa, alongside Manly’s Josh Schuster and Toafofoa Sipley, and St George Illawarra’s Francis Molo and Matt Feagai.
Warriors playmakers Chanel Harris-Tavita and Ronald Volkman, South Sydney’s Jaxson Paulo and Brisbane striker Keenan Palasia are other new faces in the Samoa squad.
They will be joined by experienced forwards Martin Taupau, Josh Aloiai, Jaydn Su’A, Jazz Tevaga, Bunty Afoa and Luciano Leilua, Wests Tigers winger David Nofoaluma and Knights playmaker Anthony Milford.
The international match has been suspended in the Southern Hemisphere since the COVID-19 outbreak in early 2020 and Parish said it was exciting for Samoa to take part in the Pacific Test again.
To underline the significance of the test, assistant coach Richard Agar and cultural and wellbeing manager Fereti Tuilagi will travel from England to join the squad at camp next week.
Agar, Panthers assistant coach Andrew Webster and former Samoa captain Frank Pritchard were recently named to join Parish’s coaching staff ahead of the World Cup.
Samoa also announced a new sponsorship with PacifiCast ahead of the Pacific Test.
“We are extremely honored and proud to partner with Rugby League Samoa,” said PacifiCast Director Julius Tuigamala.
“We look forward to helping with business support and strategic direction. PacifiCast connects the global Pasifika community through sporting, musical, artistic and cultural events. PacifiCast opens a new perspective on the Pacific.”
Toa Samoa Team:
Anthony Milford (Knights)
Bunty Afoa (Warriors)
Chanel Harris-Tavita (Warriors)
Charlie Staines (Panthers)
David Nofoaluma (Western Tigers)
Francois Molo (Dragons)
Izack Tago (Panthers)
Jaxson Paulo (Rabbits)
Jaydn Su’a (Dragons)
Jazz Tevaga (Warriors)
Josh Aloiai (sea eagles)
Josh Schuster (Sea Eagles)
Keenan Palasia (Broncos)
Luciano Leilua (Cowboys)
Martin Taupau (Sea Eagles)
Mathew Feagai (Dragons)
Ronald Volkman (Warriors)
Spencer Leniu (Panthers)
Taylan May (Panthers)
Toafofoa Sipley (sea eagles)
The Pacific Test brings together the pride and passion of Cook Islands, Fiji, PNG and Samoa in a double-header at Campbelltown Sports Stadium on Saturday June 25. Get your tickets here.