With Samoa planning to add former All Blacks Lima Sopoaga and Steve Luatua to their Pacific Nations Cup-winning team, although integrating 103 cap Ma’a Nonu seems improbable, England’s quest for Rugby World Cup triumph in France next year is set to get more difficult.
In order to prepare his country for the challenge in France in 2023, head coach Seilala Mapusua has shared his ideas with RugbyPass. Seilala Mapusua’s team is in Pool D with England, Argentina, Japan, and Chile.
For their November matches against Italy, Georgia, and Romania, Mapusua wants to have Bristol’s Luatua and Sopoaga, the former Highlanders and Wasps outside half who is now with Lyon in France, available.
Mapusua stated: “Ma’a Nonu has been on Samoa’s wish list for almost 20 years but he is now 40 years old and we have some fantastic mid-fielders coming through so it is about strengthening what we have begun.” Many Samoan fans would also like to see 40-year-old All Blacks icon Nonu recruited in.
Mapusua is anxious to test his players against Tier 1 teams after Samoa defeated the PNC hosts Fiji, Tonga, and Australia A. However, he can only schedule one match against Italy, who are now rated No. 14 in the world, three places below Samoa.
The Samoan team went unnoticed at the PNC as attention was on Tonga, which featured Israel Folau, Charles Piutau, and Malaki Fekitoa, all of whom had switched countries as a result of World Rugby’s new qualification standard, which permits a player to play for another country if he meets the standard and hasn’t competed in international rugby for three years.
They would join a Samoa team that already included recent additions Fritz Lee, who has enjoyed a stellar career with Clermont Auvergne, and former New Zealand U20 cap Jordan Taufua, who plays at Lyon. Sopoaga won the last of his 16 All Blacks caps in 2017, while Luatua won his 15th cap for New Zealand against Italy in 2016.
The roster has been strengthened by the addition of players who are now a part of the Moana Pasifika Super Rugby Pacific side, making the transition to test rugby less intimidating.
The next phase in Mapusua’s effort to alter perceptions of Samoa and make them an attractive choice for dual-qualified players, notably in New Zealand, is the addition of Sopoaga and Luatua. The former Samoan center, who has 33 caps, told RugbyPass: “Steven Luatua would be a terrific addition for us and it will be a good problem to have him, Fritz Lee, Jordan Taufua, and Henry Stowers all available with the men who are currently key players in our team.
Lima is another option, and working with the men who genuinely want to be a part of the group is important. It is not simply about including former All Blacks when they are qualified.
Jordan was always qualified to represent Samoa, but due to an injury last year, it was wonderful to see him play. We also have Fritz Lee from Clermont, and having those two with their wealth of experience was fantastic because they are top-notch athletes. Even though the changes to eligibility won’t take effect right away, I am in contact with a few more people who will be available if they are healthy and ready by November.
The PNC was won in Fiji thanks to a great extent to the consideration of Moana Pasifika in the Super Rugby Pacific rivalry. Mapusua needs to settle on Samoa the essential decision for youthful, qualified players.
“We could not have possibly been to Fiji in the event that we didn’t completely accept that we might have won the Cup,” he proceeded. We comprehended it would require a collaboration to win it, that Tonga and Fiji would be considerable rivals, and that Australia A would be cutthroat. We expected to persuade ourselves that help was accessible as far as we were concerned. From the beginning, we straightened out and assisted the folks with acknowledging why they were there. This let us concentrate all the more eagerly and progress with the exercises.
“The fellows are far more grounded than ever inferable from Moana Pasifika, and keeping in mind that that first season was continuously going to be hard for them, having seven months as an expert player and living and breathing it was colossal as far as we were concerned. Subsequently, we had the option to zero in additional on how we needed to play and invest less energy updating the chaps. The players weren’t coming straightforwardly from club rugby to test rugby.
“It is dispiriting that our main Tier One experience among now and the World Cup is with Italy. We have tests with Italy, Georgia, and Romania in November. While we are trying to coordinate a couple of more diligently matchups past test times, it is trying to get every one of our players together. I can concentrate in how to keep our gathering getting to the next level.
“Our show is the most effective way to have an impact on people’s viewpoints about Samoa, and since I expected this position, one of my essential targets has been to cultivate a gathering that players should be a piece of. I want every contender who is able to pick the blue shirt to pull at heartstrings and make themselves accessible for Samoa.
I sincerely hope that we are on the same path as the lads who choose to represent Samoa before any other nation.
Given that New Zealand lost a home test series to Ireland while Mapusua won the PNC, he might be able to give All Blacks coach Ian Foster some advice on how to triumph in international competition. “I’m still asking him for advise, even though I haven’t been in the coaching business long enough to be able to offer any. Simply said, I’m excited to keep learning.