Johannesburg - Samoa have named a very strong squad - comprising just two locally based players - for their tour of South Africa next month.
According to the supersport.com website, boasting a range of players who are active in English, French and Japanese leagues, as well as in Super Rugby, coach Stephen Betham will bring probably the strongest squad ever assembled outside a World Cup to these shores for the four nation tournament involving the Springboks, Italy and Scotland.
Buoyed by the IRB’s help in securing their overseas-based players for the tour, the Samoans have loaded their squad with players based abroad and will give the first glimpse of the side they intend to take to the World Cup in England.
While old hands such as Alesana Tuilagi, Census Johnston and former Blues fullback Paul Williams are all there, the squad also boasts the Pisi brothers - George and Tusi - with George now with Northampton while Tusi is in South Africa at the moment with the Hurricanes.
Other Super Rugby players named to tour include Hurricanes flank Jack Lam, hooker Manu Leiataua and 'Canes winger Alapati Leiua while lock Kane Thompson, who now plays for the Canon Eagles in Japan, is also no stranger to local television screens.
The British based contingent includes Leceister Tigers prop Logovi'i Mulipola, Newcastle’s Taiasina Tuifua and Sale’s Johnny Leota while Sevens circuit regulars Alafoti Faosiliva and Ofisa Treviranus also make the grade.
Prop Ti'i Paulo (Clermont), lock Daniel Leo (Perpignan) and former Crusaders scrumhalf Kahn Fotuali'i will also be no strangers to South African shores.
In announcing the team Samoa Rugby Union chairperson, Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi, said two players will be added to the squad later. They will be a loose forward and a wing. A captain has yet to be finalised as well.
There has been some speculation that last year’s captain David Lemi may be the wing added to the squad when concerns over his availability have been cleared up.
The Samoans will play both Italy and Scotland in curtain-raisers to Springbok Tests in June, and depending on how they do, may well face the Springboks in the third and final week of the mini tournament.
They will also kick off their tour with a friendly match against the Lions at Ellis Park.
Samoan squad to tour South Africa: Hookers:
Ti'i Paulo (Clermont), Wayne Ole Avei (Bordeaux Beagles), Manu Leiataua (North Harbour)
Census Johnston (Toulouse), Logovi'i Mulipola (Leicester Tigers), Sakaria Taulafo (London Wasp), James Johnston (Harlequins)
Kane Thompson (Canon Eagles), Iosefa Tekori (Castres), Daniel Leo (Perpignan), Teofilo Paulo (Cardiff Blues)
Taiasina Tuifua (Newcastle Falcons), Alafoti Faosiliva (Bristol), Ofisa Treviranus (London Irish), Jack Lam (Hurricanes), Maurie Fa'asavalu (Harlequins), Fa'alemiga Selesele (Moata’a, Samoa), TBC
Kahn Fotuali'i (Ospreys), Jeremy Su'a (Crusaders), Auvasa Faleali'i (Newcastle, Australia)
Tusi Pisi (Hurricanes/Suntory Sungoliath), Ki Anufe (Auckland)
George Pisi (Northampton Saints), Johnny Leota (Sale Sharks), Isaia Tuifua (Vigo, Spain), Brandon Va'aulu (Tokyo)
Alesana Tuilagi (NTT Shining Arcs), Alapati Leiua (Hurricanes), Robert Lilomaiava (Vaiala, Samoa), TBC
Paul Williams (Stade Francais), James So'oialo (Wellington).
1. Head Coach - Stephen Betham
2. Team Manager - Namulauulu Sami Leota
3. Assistant Coach Backs - Darryl Suasua
4. Assistant Coach Forwards - Gregory Smith
5. Scrum Coach - Michael Casey
6. Video Analyst - Junior Narayan
7. Strength & Conditioning Coach - Michael Deasy
8. Logistics Officer - Uitiriai Kapeteni
9. Team Doctor - Navy Collins
10. Physiotherapist 1 - Jodie McCarthy
11. Physiotherapist 2 - Sue Pescud
12. Set Piece Skills Coach - TBC
13. Development Coach - TBC