11 May 2016

Sport: 12 new caps in Manu Samoa squad

12:04 pm on 11 May 2016

12 new caps have been included in a new-look Manu Samoa rugby squad to play test matches against Georgia, Fiji and Tonga next month.

Just 17 players have been retained from the squad that finished fourth in their group at last year's Rugby World Cup.

Eight of the debutants are based in New Zealand, two in France and two locally in Samoa.

Samoa A captain and Manu sevens rep Greg Foe is in line to make his test debut while Elia Elia and Dangelo Leuila were part of the team that won the World Rugby Under 20 Trophy earlier this month.

Greg Foe will captain Samoa A vs the Melbourne Rebels.

Greg Foe has been selected for Manu Samoa. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Head coach Namulauulu Alama Ieremia said it's exciting to introduce the new breed of talent coming through the ranks, both locally and overseas, but said it's important to balance long-term development with a need to win in the here and now.

"To try and put (all 12 new caps) together at once is obviously cutting your throat so I think it's important that we blood these new caps into the experienced team on a case by case basis. In saying that, the main focus obviously for these June test matches are really about qualification for the 2019 World Cup. You need quite a bit of experience to make sure that we qualify so the first stage is to obviously get through this June and then obviously next June as well, as part of the qualification process, and you do need experience to get through that with those challenges."

Ieremia recently travelled to the Northern Hemisphere to speak with Samoan players in the UK and France and said he was encouraged heartened by the reponse from the Manu's experienced players who want to atone for last year's World Cup disappointment.

"That was explained to the players - especially our experienced players overseas - and they were given the choice to come play or not and that's what I'm really excited about, there's a real desire to come back and still play for Manu Samoa and, especially for many of them, making sure that we try and qualify again for the next World Cup...and we don't get that many test matches so making sure that we've got a real purpose and key targets and outcomes we want out of these test matches because it's very important in terms of looking forward and building on what you have."

Manu Samoa assistant coach Alama Ieremia.

Manu Samoa head coach Alama Ieremia. Photo: AFP

The 40-strong squad includes recalls for veteran props Sam Aiono and James Johnson, lock Oneone Faafou and flanker Piula Faasalele.

Halfback Pele Cowley, centre Winston Stanley, wingers David Lemi and Alofa Alofa and fullback Faialaga Afamasaga are also back in blue.

Incumbent captain Ofisa Treviranus is among a long list of players unavailable because of injury or family reasons that also includes George Pisi, Johnny Leota, Logovii Mulipola, Anthony Perenise Ole Avei, Kahn Fotualii and Paul Williams.

Alama Ieremia was hopeful those players will come back into the selection frame later in the year.

"There's a fair bit of experience obviously missing through injuries. There's a couple there with family reasons as well but I suppose the concern is the injured players and hoping that they will also put up their hand up again later in the year and I think that's really significant because playing test rugby in the Pacific is certainly different than playing up north with the style of rugby and the type of mentality required up north so there are some key players in that injured list that will hopefully feature in November."

Manu Samoa captain Ofisa Treviranus.

World Cup captain Ofisa Treviranus is among a long list of players unavailable for selection. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Full squad:

Sakaria Taulafo Stade Francias (FRA)

James Johnson Worcester (UK)

Census Johnson Toulouse (FRA)

Viliamu Afatia Agen (FRA)

Jake Grey SCOPA (SAM)

Sam Aiono Counties Manukau (NZ)

Nuuuli Lene* Oriental Rongotai,Wellington (NZ)

Motu Matuu Hurricanes (NZ)

Manu Leiataua Stade Aurillacois (FRA)

Seilala Lam* Nevers (FRA)

Teofilo Paulo Treviso (ITA)

Faatiga Lemalu Sunwolves (JPN)

Piula Faasalele Castre (FRA)

Talaga Alofipo* Vaimoso (SAM)

Jeff Lepa* Tasman (NZ)

Jack Lam Bristol (UK)

TJ Ioane Sale (UK)

Alafoti Faosiliva Bath (UK)

Faifili Levave Mitsubishi (JPN)

Oneone Faafou Vaiala (SAM)

Greg Foe* Poneke, Wellington (NZ)

Elia Elia* Canterbury (NZ)

Pele Cowley Waikato (NZ)

Auvasa Falealii* Nevers (FRA)

Dwayne Polataivao* Pakuranga (NZ)

Tusiata Pisi Sunwolves (JPN)

Michael Stanley London (UK)

Patrick Faapale Fiamme Oro (ITA)

Dangelo Leuila* Papatoetoe, Auckland (NZ)

Rey Lee Lo Cardiff Blues (WAL)

Winston Stanley Halequins (UK)

Faialaga Afamasaga Northland (NZ)

Isaia Petelo* Marist St Pats, Wellington (NZ)

Malu Falaniko* Vaiala (SAM)

Paul Perez Toulouse (FRA)

Faatoina Autagavaia Nevers (FRA)

David Lemi Bristol (UK)

Alofa Alofa La Rochelle (FRA)

Tim Nanai Williams Ricoh (JPN)

Danny Tusitala* Ponsonby, Auckland (NZ)

*New Caps

Players unavailable due to injury or family reasons:

George Pisi (injury-knee)

Johnny Leota (family)

Vavae Tuilagi (injury-broken leg)

Logovii Mulipola (injury-knee)

Ahsee Tuala (inury-hip)

Alapati Leiua (injury-knee)

Ken Pisi (player fatigue)

Ofisa Treviranus (injury-shoulder)

Anthony Perenise (family)

Wayne Ole Avei (injury-shoulder)

Kahn Fotualii (family)

Paul Williams (family)