‘Pacific will benefit’

Flying Fijians captain Levani Botia with former All Blacks and now Samoa assistant coach Tana U’maga during the PNC launch in Suva. Picture: JONACANI LALAKOBAU

Manu Samoa head coach Vaovasamanaia Seilala Mapusua says there will be an improvement in the performance of Pacific Island nations at the Rugby World Cup next year following the inclusion of Moana Pasifika and the Fijian Drua in Super Rugby.

The establishment of the Moana Pasifika and Fijian Drua Super Rugby franchises has been rewarded with 43 players being selected for their respective nations for the Pacific Nations Cup 2022.

“I think it (Pacific’s Super Rugby inclusion) was long overdue,” said Mapusua, who played 60 matches for the Highlanders in the Super Rugby competition.

“You will see the benefits of those two teams, not just for our national teams but as a pathway for local and island based players.

“Fiji had always provided a lot of players but they would have to travel quite far. Having a local-based Super Rugby team is good for our game and our national teams will only get stronger from here.

“I am really happy with the inclusion of the teams.”

Mapusua selected 15 players of his 30-member squad from the Moana Pasifika team and said he was extremely proud of having a Super Rugby team to base his selections from.

“Being able to call on 15 players coming straight from Super Rugby is great and I cannot express how grateful I am for this Samoan team.”

Moana Pasifika players who will turn out for Samoa Ray Niuia, Samuel Slade, Mike Curry, Henry Stowers, Alamanda Motuga, Jack Lam, Ere Enari, Jonathan Taumateine, Henry Taefu, Danny Toala, Neria Fomai, Nigel Ah Wong, Lolagi Visinia, and D’Angelo Leuila.

Three players from Samoa’s RWC 2019 squad in Ray Niuia, Jack Lam and Henry Taefu are among nine players already capped by Manu Samoa.

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