- How the Pacific Island sides could be World Cup challengers.
While the likes of Fiji, Tonga and Samoa punch well above their weight in international rugby based on their small populations, it’s fair to say they could be doing a lot better.
Many of the Pacific Islands‘ brightest stars have been hoovered up by the likes of Australia and New Zealand for many years, while even the northern hemisphere nations have done the same in recent years.
Independent not-for-profit players association Pacific Rugby Welfare posted hypothetical teams for the three Pacific Island nations, which are made up of players who could have represented Fiji, Tonga and Samoa.
Current eligibility laws aside- who would feature in your Invitational Pacific Island XV’s (based on heritage & ancestry)?
Here are our picks 🇫🇯🇹🇴🇼🇸💪🏾🌴 pic.twitter.com/JBrWQvywny
— PacificRugbyWelfare (@pacificwelfare) April 7, 2021
Fiji, Tonga and Samoa teams.
The Fijian side features the least amount of changes to the actual side, but does boast a number of changes that would give the 11th ranked side in the World Rugby rankings a major boost.
Young All Blacks number eight Hoskins Sotutu has been named in the side based on his Fijian heritage, while Fijian-born Wallabies winger Marika Koroibete has also found a place in the starting team.
France’s Virimi Vakatawa has also been named in the starting 15, while Fijian-born Australian international Samu Kereve and Fijian-born New Zealand international Sevu Reece make the bench.
Widespread changes for Tonga and Samoa
Tonga’s starting 15 is entirely made up of players who either represent other countries or have not yet played international rugby.
Seven former or current All Blacks make the starting team, with New Zealand fly-half Richie Mo’unga perhaps the stand out name in the team, who qualifies for Tonga through his father.
Three Wallabies have been named in the starting 15, with Taniela Tupou, also known as the Tongan Thor, perhaps the biggest name of the Australian contingent.
A couple of famous faces from the northern hemisphere also appear in the team, with England’s Mako Vunipola and Wales’ Taulupe Faletau both named to start. England number eight Billy Vunipola has been named on the bench.
Samoa boasts another team ram-packed with All Blacks, with 10 New Zealand internationals being named in the starting 15, among them Ardie Savea.
Two Wallabies have been named in the starting team, while another six Australian internationals have been named as replacements. England’s Manu Tuilagi has been named at 12.
Rugby league star Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, who will join New Zealand rugby union club the Blues next year, has been named as full back.
Check out the teams below. Each player’s actual international allegiance is beside their names.
1. Alex Hodgman (New Zealand), 2. Sam Matavesi (Fiji), 3. Peni Ravai (Fiji), 4. Leone Nakarawa (Fiji), 5. Seru Uru (uncapped), 6. Viliame Mata (Fiji), 7. Peceli Yato, (Fiji) 8. Hoskins Sotutu (New Zealand), 9. Frank Lomani (Fiji), 10. Ben Volavola (Fiji), 11. Marika Koroibete (Australia), 12. Virimi Vakatawa (France), 13. Semi Radradra (Fiji), 14. Josua Tuisova (Fiji), Michael Little (uncapped).
16. Mesu Dolokoto (Fiji), 17. George Bower (uncapped) 18. Mesaki Doge (Fiji), 19. Isaia Walker-Leawere (uncapped), 20. Levani Botia (Fiji), 21. Moses Sorovi (uncapped), 22. Samu Kerevi (Australia), 23. Sevu Reece (New Zealand).
1. Mako Vunipola (England), 2. Folau Fainga’a (Australia), 3. Taniela Tupou (Australia), 4. Tupou Vaa’i (New Zealand), 5. Adam Coleman (Australia), 6. Shannon Frizell (New Zealand), 7. Sione Havili (uncapped), 8. Taulupe Faletau (Wales), 9. Folau Fakatava (uncapped), 10. Richie Mo’unga (New Zealand), 11. Leicester Fainga’anuku (uncapped), 12. Nanai Laumape (New Zealand), 13. Malakai Fekitoa (New Zealand), 14. Charles Piutau (New Zealand), 15. David Havili (New Zealand).
16. Tolu Latu (Australia), 17. Karl Tu’inukuafe (New Zealand), 18. Ofa Tu’ungafasi (New Zealand), 19. Vaea Fifita (New Zealand), 20. Billy Vunipola (England), 21. Augustine Pulu (New Zealand), 22. George Moala (New Zealand), 23. Telusa Veainu (Tonga).
1. Scott Sio (Australia), 2. Asafo Aumua (New Zealand), 3. Nepo Laulala (New Zealand), 4. Patrick Tuipuloto (New Zealand), 5. Steven Luatua (New Zealand), 6. Akira Ioane (New Zealand), 7. Dalton Papali’i (New Zealand), 8. Ardie Savea (New Zealand), 9. Jonathan Taumateine (uncapped), 10. Matt Toomua (Australia), 11. Caleb Clarke (New Zealand), 12. Manu Tuilagi (England), 13. Anton Lienert-Brown (New Zealand), 14. Rieko Ioane (New Zealand), 15. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (uncapped).
16. Brandon Paenga-Amosa (Australia), 17. Allan Alaalatoa (Australia), 18. Charles Faumuina (New Zealand), 19. Will Skelton (Australia), 20. Lukhan Salakaia-Loto (Australia), 21. Scott Malolua (Samoa), 22. Noah Lolesio (Australia), 23. Jordan Petaia (Australia).