World Rugby’s new eligibility laws have captured the rugby fraternity’s global attention in the past 36 hours as enthusiasm grows about how that change of government will impact second tier nations.
The two countries with the most to gain from the amended laws are Samoa and Tonga as both nations have a plethora of top players who are now, or will be available at some point, to play for their Pacific Island teams.
Some of these players will be immediately available to play for those countries, while others will become eligible ahead of the 2023 World Cup in France.
With that in mind, here’s a potential match day team that Samoa could field against the likes of England, Argentina and Japan in Pool D in the biggest sporting tournament of the past couple of years.
1. Logovi’i Mulipola
A Gallagher Premiership veteran with over 150 appearances for Leicester Tigers, Newcastle Falcons and Gloucester, Logovi’i Mulipola is likely to say goodbye to his 33-test international career at France 2023, at which point he will be 36 years old.
2. Motu Matu’u
Another longtime front rower for Samoa – in addition to the Hurricanes, Wellington, Gloucester and London Irish – the upcoming World Cup could be the last hurray for Motu Matu’u too, who will also be 36 when the tournament rolls around. .
3. Charlie Faumuina
One of the many former All Blacks that Samoa will no doubt field for an international change of loyalty, Charlie Faumuina played the last of his 50 tests for New Zealand four and a half years ago. That makes the 34-year-old World Cup winner, who now plays in France for Toulouse, immediately eligible for the Samoan selection.
4. Chris Vui
With 18 tests under his belt since 2016, Chris Vui has established himself as a key member of the Samoan side in recent years, as evidenced by his appointment as captain of the national team in 2017 at the age of just 24.
5. Steven Luatua
Former All Blacks, Blues and Auckland Faumuina teammate Steven Luatua may be another former New Zealand international who will join Manu Samoa as early as next July. The 30-year-old star of the Bristol Bears last played for the All Blacks against Italy five years ago, which means he is now free for selection.
6. Giordano Taufua
Despite being named to the 2018 All Blacks squad to play in France, injuries were avoided Jordan Taufua has always played in the rugby test for New Zealand. It means that the 29-year-old Lyon forward is eligible for Samoa, the nation he played for at U20 level in 2011.
7. Du’Plessis Kirifi
Similarly to Taufua, Du’Plessis Kirifi was called into the All Blacks squad as a cover for injury during last year’s Tri Nations, but never made his trial debut. That leaves the 24-year-old Hurricanes star eligible to play for Samoa in sight and the next World Cup, while still young enough to step down for three years and have a second crack with the All Blacks.
8. Victor Vito
A two-time World Cup winner, a 2016 Super Rugby champion and a 33-test All Blacks veteran, few would add more experience and star power to Samoan squad than Victor Vito. That prospect could become a reality as the 34-year-old La Rochelle striker hasn’t played for New Zealand since the 2015 World Cup.
“We can also just hope that the island nations will not only see their children returning to the World Cup, but all year round.” ?
Tony Johnson ??
? https://t.co/T4TVlAu22Q pic.twitter.com/nNjWnbk4cn
– XV Rugby (@TheXV) November 25, 2021
9. Ere Enari
One of the first signings announced by Super Rugby Pacific expansion team Moana Pasifika, Ere Enari joins the franchise as a potential representative of Manu Samoa. Of Samoan and Maori heritage, the 24-year-old would bring with him a lot of experience at Manu Samoa’s pitch, including five Super Rugby crowns and a 2017 U20 world title.
10. Five excursions
Another former All Black whose testing career ended in 2017, Lima Sopoaga is now eligible to represent Samoa or the Cook Islands, for which his brothers play, under the new rules. With 16 tests and a 2015 Super Rugby title to his name, the 30-year-old top five would be a valuable addition to both sides.
11. Julian Savea
One of the game’s brightest stars during his six-season stint as All Black, Julian Savea can now revive his international career with Samoa. The 31-year-old winger of the Hurricanes scored 46 tries in 54 tests between 2012 and 2017, and he didn’t rule out adding to that tally for Samoa in the wake of World Rugby’s law change.
12. Ma’a Nonu
An all-time rugby icon, Ma’a Nonu would likely be the biggest name to change international loyalty if she joined Samoa. Even at the age of 39, the San Diego Legion midfielder continues to add quality to every team he has played for since making the last of his 103 All Blacks appearances in the 2015 World Cup final, and the Samoa would likely benefit from its inclusion.
13. Tim Nanai-Williams
Among the first players to exploit World Rugby’s eligibility loophole following the introduction of seven at the Olympics, Tim Nanai-Williams has become a staple of the Samoan national team since his test debut in 2015. He is unlikely to change for 32. -years old Toulouse utility returned despite the change in rules.
14. Joe Tomane
Perhaps a forgotten star of the Wallabies and Australian rugby, Joe Tomane could resume his international career after a six-year hiatus. The 31-year-old Ricoh Black Rams winger played his 17th and final test for the Wallabies at the 2015 World Cup, after which he left Australia for Ireland, but could add a ton of experience and firepower. on the band for Samoa.
15. Josh Ioane
Two years after making his test debut, Josh Ioane has yet to make his second appearance for the All Blacks. This means that if the Chiefs’ 26-year-old playmaker does not play for New Zealand in next year’s July test series against Ireland, the Bledisloe Cup or the Rugby Championship, then he can play for Samoa from September onwards. .
Many countries may have stars available for selection, not just PI nations, with the new regulations. https://t.co/hRg1apjhaT
– RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) November 25, 2021
16. Ray Niuia
Already an international expert for Samoa, Ray Niuia has 10 tests to his name and has participated in all four of his nation’s games at the 2019 World Cup. Winner of Super Rugby Trans-Tasman with the Blues this year, the 30-year-old prostitute will play for Moana Pasifika in 2022.
17. Aki Seiuli
Set to make his Samoa debut against the Barbarians in Twickenham this weekend, former Highlanders and Otago prop Aki Seiuli may have a long-term outlook for Samoa on the loose side of the fray. The 28-year-old currently works in Scotland with the Glasgow Warriors.
18. Jeff Toomaga-Allen
Eight years after making his only test appearance for the All Blacks, Jeff Toomaga-Allen would add depth and experience to Samoa’s forward group. Earning the selection here ahead of Michael Alaalatoa and Paul Alo-Emile, the 31-year-old tighthead of the Wasps played two more non-tests for New Zealand in 2017 and won a Super Rugby title with the Hurricanes in 2016.
19. Sam Slade
Another pickup for Moana Pasifika, Sam Slade has already committed to Samoa by making his first appearances for the nation against the Maori All Blacks and Tonga earlier this year. The 24-year-old utility forward was a member of New Zealand’s 2017 U20 world champion squad.
20. Alamanda Motuga
Joining Mulipola as one of only two Samoan-born players in this squad, Alamanda Motuga has emerged as a prominent figure on the kiwi home scene in recent years. Now signed with Moana Pasifika, the 27-year-old will be keen to add to his three tests ahead of what should be his second World Cup.
21. Jonathan Taumateine
A former Chiefs and Hurricanes midfielder, Jonathan Taumateine is another Samoan international who has joined Moana Pasifika for next year. The 24-year-old made his first two trial appearances in World Cup qualifiers against Tonga in July.
22. Christian Lealiifano
Moana Pasifika’s inaugural signing for 2022, former Wallabies director Christian Lealiifano, is expected to become eligible for Samoa next September. That will come three years after the 34-year-old’s 26th and final test for Australia in the World Cup quarter-final defeat to England, though a call-up by Wallabies boss Dave Rennie shouldn’t be out of the question. If he truly chooses to change the international flag, Samoa may have Lealiifano, Sopoaga and Ioane to choose from at number 10.
23. Denny Solomona
It’s been three years since Denny Solomona played the last of his five tests for England against the Springboks, meaning the 28-year-old Sale Sharks winger is now eligible for Samoa. This could make him a double Samoan representative after playing in the rugby league for the country in 2016.
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