Samoa have named their line-ups for the Rugby League World Cup.
The team are packed with NRL stars, including some considered the best in the sport, and who have turned down lucrative offers by Australia and New Zealand.
The polite declines by several NRL stars to wear the Green and Gold jersey of Australia in particular, has shocked many Aussie fans. Sydney Roosters Winger Joseph Suaalii’s decision to play for Toa Samoa for example, prompted a disgruntled Australian sports commentator, New Corps Paul Kent to lament the eligibility rules.
“You want patriots not mercenaries”, said Kent.
“They will cop the money to play Origin, but they don’t want to play for Australia”, he added.
Toa Samoa are based in Doncaster and will play hosts England in the opener of the World Cup. Many are expecting a Samoan upset.
“We could be hosting the winners, it’s an unbelievable side they are putting together”, Doncaster Rugby League CEO Carl Hall told the Doncaster Free Press last week.
“It wouldn’t be a surprise to see them win that.””
Hall’s comments are not an overstatement. Eight players named in Toa Samoa, played in the NRL Grand finals most of whom were first-choice selections for the Kangaroos including Penrith Panthers Brian To’o and Parramatta Eels Prop Junior Paulo.
Josh Aloiai (Manly Warringah Sea Eagles), Fa’amanu Brown (Wests Tigers), Stephen Crichton (Penrith Panthers), Mathew Feagai (St George-Illawarra Dragons), Braden Hamlin-Uele (Cronulla Sharks), Chanel Harris-Tavita (Warriors), Royce Hunt (Cronulla Sharks), Oregon Kaufusi (Parramatta Eels), Luciano Leilua (North Queensland Cowboys), Spencer Leniu (Penrith Panthers), Danny Levi (Huddersfield Giants), Jarome Luai (Penrith Panthers), Taylan May (Penrith Panthers), Tyrone May (Catalans Dragons), Anthony Milford (Newcastle Knights), Josh Papalii (Canberra Raiders), Junior Paulo (Parramatta Eels), Jaydn Su’a (St George-Illawarra Dragons), Joseph Suaalii (Sydney Roosters), Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow (North Queensland Cowboys), Izack Tago (Penrith Panthers), Martin Taupau (Manly Warringah Sea Eagles), Brian To’o (Penrith Panthers), Kelma Tuilagi (Wests Tigers).
SOURCE: RNZ PACIFIC