Strong message for Manu Samoa as RWC squad named

Photo: Manu Samoa

Manu Samoa’s 32 players for the Rugby World Cup in France were announced on Sunday and with that a strong message was given to the captains by Lakapi Samoa chairman Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi.

Tuilaepa told the players that only the privileged get to don the national jumper and wave the Samoan flag on the world stage.

“This is a special flag, the flag of freedom. If you remember our history and how so many countries tried to rule over Samoa and treat us like slaves,” he said.

“And we cannot forget the time when we were under foreign influence. It is the only way we can raise our flag and remind yourselves that you are proud Samoans.

“You must never forget where your roots are. These are my final words to you.”

Manu Samoa head coach Vaovasamanaia Seilala Mapusua has announced a 32 men squad for the Rugby World Cup which includes Ben Lam and Lima Sopoaga.

The squad: Nigel Ah Wong, Michael Ala’alatoa, Brian Alaiunuuese, Paul Alo-Emile, Ereatara Enari, So’otala Fa’aso’o, Miracle Fai’ilagi, Charlie Faumuina, Ed Fidow, Neria Fomai, Ben Lam, Seilala Lam, Jordon Lay, Christian Leali’ifano, Fritz lee, D’Angelo Leuila, Steven Luatua, Sama Malolo, Tumua Manu, Melani Matavao, Theodore McFarland, Alamanda Motuga, Duncan Paia’aua, Taleni Seu, Ulupano Junior Seuteni, Samuel Slade, Lima Sopoaga, Jordan Taufua, Jonathan Taumateine, Danny Tuala, Luteru Tolai, Chris Vui.

Vaovasamanaia said he has been in contact with Lam and Sopoaga and believes that they will fit into the team despite not having played any matches so far with the team.

Michael Ala’alatoa and Chris Vui have been named as co-captains with youngster Miracle Fai’ilagi forcing his way into the squad.

“It’s a huge honour and a privilege and I am sure Chris feels the same and to be able to share this load with someone like Chris is good. We are quite like minded but feel that we challenge each other all for the betterment of the team,” said Ala’alatoa.

Manu Samoa assembled five weeks ago and the majority of the players headed to the World Cup have been together.

Ala’alatoa said the players were united by a common goal.

“These games are going to be crucial for us. There are guys like Lima Sopoaga and Ben Lam who will be joining us later but this gives us an opportunity to know what the team is about, to integrate and get on with the team culture before the World Cup,” he said.

Both co-captains are not born in Samoa but come from families with their roots still instilled in Samoa and believe that their culture will add to their togetherness.

“Part of the five weeks was to be immersed with our people. The first week we were here, we went to Savaii and we stayed with in Asau, and we billeted with families, first time to sleep on the fala,” Ala’alatoa.

“It was a chance for us to see how our people live and get to experience that.”

Vaovasamanaia said it was difficult to pencil in the final names and he is taking the best players for a successful World Cup campaign.

He said it was never going to be an easy task as players have been committing themselves in training and improving as the weeks have progressed.

The coach said he will confirm one final player before they head to France on 11 August.

Manu Samoa take on the Barbarians on August 18 and a week later they take on Ireland. Manu Samoa’s first game in the Rugby World Cup is on Sunday, September 17 at 2am (Samoa time).