Pool B features some of the best of Pacific Island rugby league, and one of those teams in Samoa who will keen to beat their closest rival Tonga and surprise New Zealand. Their chances at the 2017 Rugby League World Cup is outlined below.
WHAT TO EXPECT
Samoa will play with plenty of passion, as you expect from any Pacific nation in this World Cup, and loads of power. They have a lot of NRL quality in their team, as they can still call upon Josh Papalii, Peter Mata’utia and Sione Mata’utia, Joseph Paulo and Junior Paulo to cause trouble in Pool B. The worry is in the halves where they lack the quality of New Zealand, but you could argue are not far behind Tonga in that department. Ben Roberts, back from his stint in the UK, is a good player but can he guide Samoa to Pool B surprise?
There is doubt they will have the weapons to take down both New Zealand and Tonga, and not forgetting Scotland who drew with New Zealand in 2016, but there is no doubt they will be up for the battle, especially the big game against Tonga which should be one of the must see games in the first round of fixtures.
Samoa were beaten 30-10 by England in the Pacific Test earlier in 2017, and this time they face their World Cup opponents without two of the big NRL from that night in Anthony Milford and Josh Maguire who they miss through injury and selection for Australia respectively. They were outplayed on that night, and it is hard to see too much improvement with those players missing. Samoa did win a lead up game against NSW Country Under 23’s 40-26.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
The biggest name, and one of rugby league’s biggest men is the key to Samoa’s chances in the 2017 Rugby League World Cup. He is the captain of nation’s side and showed how much he loves representing Samoa in 2016 when he flew back from the UK where he was playing for Hull to play for Samoa in the Pacific Tests. Pritchard hasn’t seen a great deal of NRL game time in 2017, having only played the eight games for Parramatta. Hopefully for Samoa that means he’s ready to go. And for rugby league fans everywhere let’s hope he’s at his best.
Joey Leilua/Tautau Moga
The centres selected for Samoa offer plenty, and their contributions will also be vital to their chances. Leilua is a powerful unit, and whilst his 2017 was not as good as it promised after an outstanding 2016 he gets a chance to finish the season in style for Samoa. Tautau Moga grew in confidence throughout the Broncos’ 2017 season, and should be a handful for all the other Pool B teams. With this brute force on either side of the field, Samoa should be competitive throughout the World Cup.
With Tonga looking like the Pool B dark horses, and New Zealand as strong as ever, Samoa are looking like they might finish in third place in Pool B. That means a Quarter Final date with Pool A winners in Darwin, likely Australia, and a likely exit.
Frank Pritchard (c), Bunty Afoa, Leeson Ah Mau, Faamanu Brown, Herman Ese’ese, Pita Godinet, Joseph Leilua, Ricky Leutele, Sam Lisone, Jarmoine Luai, Suaia Matagi, Peter Mata’utia, Sione Mata’utia, Ken Maumalo, Tautau Moga, Zane Musgrave, Josh Papalii, Joseph Paulo, Junior Paulo, Ben Roberts, Sam Tagataese, Jazz Tevaga, Young Tonumaipea, Matthew Wright
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