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.
Michael Ala’alatoa and Chris Vui have been named as co-captains with youngster Miracle Fai’ilagi forcing his way into the squad.
Melani Matavao and Theodore McFarland have also been included in the squad which boasts a strong lineup.
Vaovasamanaia said it was difficult to pencil in the final names and he is taking the best players for a successful World Cup campaign.
The coach said he will confirm one final player before they head to France on 11 August.
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.
Meanwhile, Michael Ala’alatoa and Chris Vui have been given the task to lead the Manu Samoa as they head to the Rugby World Cup in France and know very well they carry the hopes of Samoans all over the world.
The roommates in camp have been the best choice for the leadership role and feel that they can make Samoa proud.
“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.
“It is special to be named co-captains, we both have worked hard to push this team to where we wanted to get to.”
“Extremely proud to be co-captain, and we are roommates as well so we are able to bounce off each other and just excited to be going to the World Cup,” said Vui.
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.”
Ala’alatoa was born into a rugby household where father Vili was a member of the Samoa squad for the 1991 Rugby World Cup, Ala’alatoa was quickly introduced into the sporting world and played rugby, volleyball and cricket in his childhood.
He has played in for clubs Australia and New Zealand and is currently contracted to Leinster in the Pro 14.
Vui can play second row or back row. He represented New Zealand Under 20 in the 2013 IRB Junior World Championship in France.
During the 2015 Super Rugby season he made two appearances for the Auckland-based Blues franchise.
Vui played for Worcester Warriors. He moved to Bristol ahead of the 2017/18 season.
He earned his first cap for Samoa during the 2016 November internationals. Vui became the youngest captain in World Rugby when he skippered Samoa in 2017.
SOURCE: SAMOA OBSERVER/PACNEWS