Three new caps named for Manu Samoa

Toulouse lock Joe Tekori has been recalled by Manu Samoa. Photo: AFP

Three new caps have been selected in the Manu Samoa squad to contest next month’s Pacific Nations Cup and Rugby World Cup qualifying matches.

Harlequins number eight Matt Luamanu adds further depth to the loose forwards, Western Force first five Rodney Iona will compete with the returning Tusi Pisi for the playmaker’s role, while former sevens star Ed Fidow gets his chance out wide in the fifteen-a-side game.

Manu Samoa new cap Matt Luamanu during his time with North Harbour. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Veteran lock Joe Tekori is set to make his first test appearance since the 2015 World Cup, while Harlequins midfielder Alofa Alofa and Newcastle wing Sinoti Sinoti have also been named in the 28-man squad after last wearing blue three years ago.

Experienced prop Logovii Mulipola has been picked for the first time since 2016, while fellow front-rowers Viliamu Afatia, Paul Alo-Emile, Seilala Lam and Elia Elia are back after missing November’s tour to the Northern Hemisphere.

Head coach Fuimaono Titimaea Tafua said he and his fellow selectors were very happy with the squad and combinations they had come up with.

“We’re confident that we’ve picked the right players for the Pacific Nations Cup as well as for the Rugby World Cup qualifying games,” he said.

“We are aware that the task ahead is not easy for us but we will give it our 100% come game day.”

Samoa will face Fiji and Tonga in Suva before home and away tests against Germany or Portugal for a place at next year’s World Cup in Japan.

Fuimaono told RNZ Pacific last week a number of front-line players would be unavailable for the upcoming internationals after their World Rugby delayed their World Cup qualifying matches by three weeks.

Former captain David Lemi, a veteran of 54 tests, is among the high-profile absentees, alongside midfielder Kieron Fonotia, halfback Kahn Fotuali’i and lock Fa’atiga Lemalu.

Utility back Tim Nanai-Williams, who started in the ten jersey for Samoa in November, suffered a season-ending shoulder injury in the Chiefs opening Super Rugby match of the season in February.

Full squad:

Forwards – Logovii Mulipola, Jordan Lay, Viliamu Afatia, Paul Alo-Emile, James Lay, Motu Matu’u, Seilala Lam, Elia Elia, Brandon Nansen, Josh Tyrell, Chris Vui, Joe Tekori, Jack Lam, TJ Ioane, Piula Faasalele, Mat Luamanu, Ofisa Treviranus.

Backs – Dwayne Polataivao, Melani Matavao, Tusi Pisi, Rodney Iona, Rey Lee-Lo, Alofa Alofa, Alapati Leiua, Paul Perez, Sinoti Sinoti, Ed Fidow, Ah See Tuala.