Pacific Rugby Cup teams, Savai’i Samoa and Upolu Samoa, share three things in common now.
One, is that both teams represent Samoa. Two, is that both teams have won the Pacific Ruby Cup. And three, both teams lack a disadvantage in either the backs or the forwards.
The interesting clash will be when the two tackle each other in the tournament.
Not only is it going to be a game to watch, it’s going to be gigantic clash between Samoa’s top local forwards and Samoa’s top local backs.
Now what is the winning factor in ruby, strong forwards or dangerous backs. You are set to find out when Savai’i Samoa and Upolu Samoa collide at Apia Park next month.
And it’s going to be a thriller.
Savai’i Samoa, the 2006 PRC champions, and first team to win the tournament, is made up of a team dominated with Samoa’s top local core forwards.
There’s strength, power, leadership and speed in the forwards.
And those players that provide such attributes are Loleni Tafunai, Hero Tea, Rudy Leavasa, Egelani Fale, Luti Pese, Lale Latu, Keneti Tofilau, Iosefa Taina, Ulia Ulia and Alafoti Faosiliva.
The team has a number of star-studded forwards.
As for captaincy, it could fall into Ulia’s hands, a Manu Samoa powerhouse who has also captained the Manu Samoa.
He has the leadership, the skill, the running ability and strength.
Together with Faosiliva, the two will no doubt prove a formidable force to put away.
Faosilva has become the rising Sevens sensation and is also a former Manu Samoa player.
And at the age of 21, his rugby career is starting to take flight.
Savai’i Samoa’s backs are not as impressive as the forwards.
There are a few well known names. such as Alatasi Tupou, Gafa Siona, Ki Anufe, Reupena Levasa and Mark Tanuvasa.
The backs will surely struggle against Upolu Samoa’s backs, but in saying that, Upolu Samoa’s forwards look no match for Savai’i’s.
Upolu Samoa, unlike Savai’i, is dominated by experienced backs.
The speed is there, the flair, the vision as well as playmaking ability.
The backs include a number of stars, including Samoa Sevens stars.
To start it off, Sevens Captain Uale Mai is in the team, so is Notise Tauafao, Roger Warren, Lolo Lui, Gasolo Salima, Timoteo Iosua and speedster Mikaele Pesamino.
It will be interesting to see how Upolu uses Uale Mai.
With two first-fives, Lui and Warren, will Uale Mai be utilised at half-back.
He definitely has the skills, height and vision for the position.
Lui and Warren will duke it out for first-five, or else one of the two will cover fullback.
One thing for sure is, if there is space, count on Pesamino and Iosua to be causing havoc.
Both players have become top-try scorer in the IRB Sevens Circuit. Iosua did it in the 2005-2006 season and Pesamino did it last season.
And not only are the two packing heat, both can cover fullback and kick at goals.
And elusive backs team Upolu has, but the forwards will need to play their part in providing possession.
In the forwards, the biggest names are Donald Kerslake, Muliufi Salanoa, Alapasa Cordtz and Sirovai Sila.
A question mark hangs over Kerslake who is still recovering from a rib injury and Cordtz has been dropped from the Samoa Sevens based on inconsistent form.
What can Upolu Samoa muster up in the forwards.
Nevertheless, no team can be underestimated, especially in the Pacific Rugby Cup.
One interesting point with both teams, is that both are coached by the Manu Samoa assistant coaches.
Paepae Stan Toomalatai, forwards coach, will guide Savai’i Samoa, and Fepuleai Selefuti Patu, backs coach, will guide Upolu.
Will Paepae’s powerhouse forwards prevail over Fepuleai’s elusive backs? We’ll have to wait and see.
Savai’i Team List
Lafoga Aoelua, Loleni Tafunai, Viliamu Viliamu, Hore Tea, Poutoa Iosi, See Lepa, Steve Faatau, Tua Ale, Rudy Leavasa, Egelani Fale, Luti Pese, Lale Latu, Wally Esau, Keneti Tofilau, Joe Taina, Ulia Ulia, Robert Ah Kuoi, Avaelalo Tito, Solomona Aimaasu, Maugaloto Palu, Ponifasio Vasa, Alafoti Faosiliva, Tele Ese, Fisoa Faaiu.
Alatasi Tupou, Ese Fale, Gafa Siona, Ki Anufe, Afa Lesa, Mark Tanuvasa, Silaumua Potifele, Fale Afamasaga, Reupena Lavasa, Junior Leota, Chris Lei Sam, Aifou Faamausili, Tom Iosefa, Anekosi Faamoe, Fanuafou Tofi, Sitiveni Leleimalefaga
Upolu Team List
Taligatuli Moala, Paula Lewis, Solomona Tavita, Donald Kerslake, Ferro Faalogo, Esau Hunt, Evile Falefatu, Mulifusi Ulima, Muliufi Salanoa , Andrew Williams, Taleni Toloa, Tui Fitiao, Ola Pipili, Lavatai Toolo, Ken Ulia, Ruperake Petaia, Sikuka Uimaitua, Alapasa Cortz, Musolini Magele, Nissan Faatui, Leilua Fiu, Asiasiga Toalepaialii, Toalima Failaga, Sirovai Sila
Uale Mai, Notise Tauafao, Mike Gabriel, Roger Warren, Lolo Lui, Samasoni Moala, Gasolo Salima, Tulise Teni, Timoteo Iosua, Tuugasala Sione, Pulemalie Sopo, Joiner Key, Uaealesi Faatauvaa, Mathew Iakopo, Mikaele Pesamino, Taulgai Afamasaga, Suauu Puauli.