Frank Pritchard will captain Toa Samoa at the 2017 Rugby League World Cup after being named in a 24-man squad which includes Canberra Raiders powerhouse Josh Papalii.
Rugby League Samoa president Tagaloa Faafouina Su'a announced the squad in Samoa today for the tournament, which will be played in Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea between 27 October and 2 December.
The squad will be led by Pritchard, the 33-year-old who returned to the NRL from the English Super League to join Parramatta this season.
Papalii, who has played eight Tests for Australia, will represent Samoa for the first time and will play alongside Canberra teammates Junior Paulo and Joey Leilua in a strong Toa Samoan side with extensive NRL and Super League experience but a blend of youth.
Zane Musgrove, Jazz Tevaga and Jarome Luai are other newcomers to the Toa Samoa squad, while Joseph Paulo returns to the side for the first time since 2010.
Ben Roberts, Leeson Ah Mau, Peter and Sione Mata’utia, Sam Tagataese and Tautau Moga add further experience to the squad.
The former Canterbury Bulldogs half Roberts has had an outstanding season with runaway Super League ladder leaders Castleford who take on Leeds in the grand final this weekend. He has played 12 Tests for Samoa, including the 2008 World Cup.
Samoa coach Matt Parish says he has assembled a strong, experienced squad with the desire to represent Samoa as evident in the disappointment of several NRL players who missed selection.
“Despite some players being unavailable due to injury we have a very strong squad that will do Samoa proud,” said Parish of the squad that will take on New Zealand (Auckland, 28 October), Tonga (Hamilton, NZ, 4 November) and Scotland (Cairns, 11 November).
“It’s a tough group but these boys have lifted before when they have put on the Samoan jersey, and there is a lot of competitiveness to gain selection. I’m looking forward to seeing what they can do.”
Rugby League Samoa president Tagaloa Faafouina Su'a said team work would be the focus of the preparations for the squad leading up to the opening game against the Kiwis.
“Teamwork requires sacrifice upfront and putting the collective needs of the team ahead of any individual. There is no ‘I’ in team but there is ‘I’ in ‘WIN’,” he said.
The Samoa squad will assemble in Sydney next Tuesday and play a Country Rugby League side in Wagga on Friday, 13 October at McDonalds Park (7pm).
The 24-man Samoan squad is:
1 Frank Pritchard (captain) - Parramatta Eels
2 Bunty Afoa - NZ Warriors
3 Leeson Ah Mau - St George Illawarra Dragons
4 Faámanu Brown - Cronulla Sharks
5 Herman Ese’ese - Brisbane Broncos
6 Pita Godinet - Manly Sea Eagles
7 Joey Leilua - Canberra Raiders
8 Ricky Leutele - Cronulla Sharks
9 Sam Lisone - NZ Warriors
10 Jarmoine Luai - Penrith Panthers
11 Suaia Matagi - Parramatta Eels
12 Peter Mata’utia - Newcastle Knights
13 Sione Mata’utia - Newcastle Knights
14 Ken Maumalo - NZ Warriors
15 Tautau Moga - Brisbane Broncos
16 Zane Musgrave - South Sydney Rabbitohs
17 Josh Papalii - Canberra Raiders
18 Joseph Paulo - Cronulla Sharks
19 Junior Paulo - Canberra Raiders
20 Ben Roberts - Castleford – UK
21 Sam Tagataese - Cronulla Sharks
22 Jazz Tevaga - NZ Warriors
23 Young Tonumaipea - Melbourne Storm
24 Matthew Wright - Manly Sea Eagles