I confess to knowing very little about the Samoan team playing the Wallabies on Sunday. We don’t see or hear much of Samoan players (or those from the other Pacific Islands nations) between World Cup years, other than occasional mentions of those earning a living in the northern hemisphere competitions. So when the Samoan team was named this week I decided to do a little digging in to the players’ background — and what I found was a lot more talent, and perhaps a higher fitness level, than I expected.
I have set out pictures and a little info on each of the starting players below. Of the reserves, I know that Census Johnston is a very good player, and James So’oialo, a goal-kicking back, is the younger brother of former internationals Rodney and Steven, but there’s little data available on the others. Taisina Tuifu’a at blindside flanker was particularly difficult to get info on. Kahn Fotuali’i is the Crusaders’ No. 2 halfback and seems very handy. Perhaps a few of the posters who watch the Top 14 and Heineken Cup could give some more insight into the players from up there?
Incidentally, a lot of posters on the forums are predicting that Samoa will fade at the 60 minute mark. I now wonder if that is wide of the mark. These guys are all pros and plenty have come straight from the middle of the New Zealand domestic season.
15: Paul Williams
From Wikipedia: (born 22 April 1983 in Auckland, New Zealand) is a New Zealand-born Samoan international rugby union player who plays for Stade Francais in the French Top 14. He is a son of former All Black Bryan Williams and the brother of Gavin Williams, who plays internationally for Samoa and for French club Clermont.
Height: 1.88 m (6 ft 2 in) Weight: 98 kg (15 st 6 lb)
14: Sailosi Tagicakibau
From london-irish.com: Sailosi is arguably the most destructive winger currently playing in the English game. His blistering pace and unstoppable power has enabled him to score 37 tries in just 96 appearances for the Exiles
Height: 193cm / 6ft 4ins Weight: 97kgs / 15st 4lbs
13: George Pisi
From Wikipedia: born 29 June 1986 in Apia, Samoa is a rugby union player for the Blues in the Super 14 competition. He made his provincial debut playing for North Harbour in 2005 alongside his elder brother Tusi Pisi. He plays as a Centre and Fullback and currently plays for Taranaki in the 2010 ITM Cup.
Height: 1.85 m (6 ft 1 in) Weight: 98 kg (220 lb)
12: Seilala Mapusua
From london-irish.com: Mapusua attended school at Wesley College in New Zealand. He represented the New Zealand Schoolboys and played for New Zealand’s Otago Highlanders in the Super 14 before signing with London Irish. Since his arrival at Sunbury he has enhances his reputation as a skilful player with the ability to offload that is second to none. Add to that a formidable defensive ability that has been seen to such telling effect in the Premiership and Heineken Cup
Height: 180cm / 5ft 11ins Weight: 102kgs / 16st 1lbs
11: Alesana Tuilagi
From leicestertigers.com: An immense presence in the tradition of his rugby-playing brothers.
Height: 1.85 m (6′ 1″) Weight: 117 kg (18 st 5 lb)
10: Tusi Pisi
From Wikipedia: (born 18 June 1982 in Apia, Samoa) Played for North Harbour in the Air New Zealand Cup. He is the current first choice flyhalf for the Samoa National Rugby Union Team. After playing for the Crusaders in the Super 14, he moved to Rugby Club Toulonnais in France for 2007/2008 and 2008/2009 seasons. At the end of the 2009 season in France, Pisi moved to Suntory Sungoliath Rugby Club in Japan.
Height: 1.83 m (6 ft 0 in) Weight: 91 kg (200 lb)
9: Kahn Fotuali’i
Height: 1.83m Weight: 96kg
8: George Stowers
From Wikipedia: (born 14 February 1979) Currently plays for the London Irish in the Guinness Premiership in England. He plays as a Flanker or a No.8. He is also the Captain of Manu Samoa, the national rugby team of Samoa.He will join Ospreys for the 2011-12 season on a 2 year deal
From london-irish.com: Stowers is a powerful athlete who is highly regarded for his carrying ability, tackling over the ball and great distribution skills in the loose.
Height: 188cm / 6ft 2ins Weight: 105kgs / 16st 7lbs
7: Maurie Fa’asavalu
From Wikipedia: Formerly played rugby league for St Helens. He was recently picked in the Great Britain rugby league squad after living in England for 4 years. He returned to rugby union in October 2010, having signed with the Harlequins club for the 2010/2011 season.
Height: 1.91 m (6′ 3″) Weight: 103 kg (16 st 3 lb)
6: Taisina Tuifu’a
Height: 195cm / 6’5″ Weight: 117kg / 18st 6lbs
5: Daniel Leo
From Wikipedia: (born 2 October 1982) Leo can play in the second row or as a back row forward. He currently plays for Union Bordeaux Bègles in France in the Pro D2 Competition, the second tier of French domestic rugby, having played several seasons for London Wasps in the English club competition, the Guinness Premiership as well as the Queensland Reds.
Height: 1.98 m (6 ft 6 in ) Weight: 112 kg( 17 st 8 lbs )
4: Kane Thompson
(born January 9, 1982) He debuted for the Highlanders in 2006. He showed he was well capable of stepping up to the higher level and he had a strong 2006 season for Southland. In 2007 he represented Manu Samoa at the Rugby World Cup.
Height: 198cm Weight: 113kg
3: Anthony Perenise
Height: 182cm Weight: 118kg
2: Mahonri Schwalger
(born 15 September 1978 in Apia, Samoa) is a professional rugby union footballer who plays for the Highlanders in the Super Rugby competition and for Taranaki in the ITM Cup. He is currently the captain of the Samoan national team.
Height: 1.80 m (5 ft 11 in) Weight: 106 kg (16 st 10 lb)
1: Sakaria Taulafo
(born 29 January 1983) Taulafo can play at loosehead or tighthead prop. He currently plays for London Wasps in the English club competition, the Guinness Premiership, and made his debut for Samoa on their 2009 Autumn tour. Prior to coming to Wasps Taulafo played for Tasman as well as Nelson’s Bay.
Height: 1.83 m (6 ft 0 in ) Weight: 122 kg (19 st 3lbs )
Reserves: Tii Paulo, Census Johnston, Filipo Lavea Levi, Manaia Salavea, Brenton Helleur, Eliota Fuimaono, James So’oialo.