Samoa names 3 new caps for All Blacks test
AUCKLAND, New Zealand (AP) — Samoa has named 18 players based in the Northern Hemisphere to its lineup for Friday’s Pacific Challenge rugby test against New Zealand.
Former Crusaders center Kieron Fonotia, now playing in Wales for Ospreys, is the only new cap in the starting lineup named Wednesday in Auckland, while Stade Francais prop Paul Alo-Emile and Nevers scrumhalf Auvasa Faleali’i may make test debuts off the bench.
Bath scrumhalf Kahn Fotuali’i will captain Samoa, taking over the leadership role from winger David Lemi, who is injured. Center Reynold Lee-Lo was also not considered due to injury.
“Obviously, losing the experience that both of these players bring is crucial and David’s leadership will be missed,” Samoa coach Alama Ieremia said. “However, Kahn Fotuali’i is more than capable of stepping up to lead and to be able to replace those players. Fonatia is a good test of the depth we can draw into.”
Ieremia said Samoa needed as much experience as possible to compete with an All Blacks team preparing for a three-test series against the British and Irish Lions.
“Obviously we want to put out an experienced team and the All Blacks is not a team you experiment with,” he said. “So we are wanting to put on a performance that will make our nation and most importantly ourselves proud.”
Samoa’s upcoming schedule includes a test against Wales and Pacific Nations Cup tests that will help decide 2019 World Cup qualification from the Oceania region.
Wales will also play Tonga in the Pacific Challenge doubleheader at Eden Park on Friday.
Samoa: Ah See Tuala, Albert Nikoro, Kieron Fonotia, Alapati Leiua, Tim Nanai Williams, Tusi Pisi, Kahn Fotuali’i; Faifili Levave, Jack Lam, Piula Faasalele, Faatiga Lemalu, Chris Vui, Census Johnston, Maatulimanu Leiatua, Viliamu Afatia. Replacements: Seilala Lam, Nephi Leatigaga, Paul Alo-Emile, Taiasina Tuifua, Alafoti Faosiliva, Auvasa Falealii, D’Angelo Leuila, Ken Pisi.