Rugby World Cup 2015: Samoa first to name final squad

Europe-based players dominate the Pacific Islanders squad for next month's showpiece tournament in England

Samoa are the first nation to confirm their 2015 Rugby World Cup squad after they finished runners-up at the Pacific Nations Cup earlier this month.

The Pacific Island nation, who are in Pool B with Scotland, South Africa, Japan and the USA, have drawn on a large contingent of their Europe-based players for the tournament in England, which starts on 18 September.

This has been an incredibly difficult selection process as we have had to leave behind some excellent players, including those who performed well at PNC.

Stephen Bentham

Head coach Stephen Bentham has included a number of less-established Samoa-based players, but it is the players plying their trade in England, France and New Zealand who will strike fear into the hearts of their opponents.

Despite losing 39-29 to Fiji in the final, Bentham believes that the tournament gave him the chance to run the rule over a large group of players before naming his squad.

He said: “Of course we are disappointed we didn’t get the result we wanted but if we consider the bigger picture, we know the task was to test our depth and to give players an opportunity to rise to the occasion.

“Some obviously did, and some weren’t quite strong enough to unseat the established professional players in their positions.

“This has been an incredibly difficult selection process as we have had to leave behind some excellent players, including those who performed well at PNC.

“But we cannot take everyone, and there is comfort is knowing that we have depth should we need to call on it.

“I am particularly pleased for the locally-based players as this selection rewards their hard work, determination and focus.

“Congratulations to all players who have been selected. I know they will represent our country with much pride and dignity.”

Among the established names are 12 players based in England, including London Irish back-row forward Ofisa Treviranus, who captains the side.

Other notable names include Leicester Tigers bulldozing prop Logovi’i Mulipola, Newcastle Falcons’ one-man wrecking machine Alesana Tuilagi and Auckland-born former Chiefs utility-back Tim Nanai-Williams, who recently moved to Japan’s Top League.

Versatile Northampton Saints backs George and Ken Pisi are also joined by brother Tusi, who plays for Japan’s Sungory Sungoliath.

Bristol forward duo Anthony Perenise and Jack Lam also made the cut, but there is no place for their club team-mate David Lemi, who misses out with a neck problem.

The 33-year-old veteran of the 2007 and 2011 tournaments was captain in his last 12 starts for his country, but will have to cheer on from the sidelines as he undergoes rehab at his club.

Forwards: Ole Avei (Bordeaux-Begles), Manu Leiataua (Aurillac), Motu Matu’u (Hurricanes), Viliamu Afatia (Agen), Jake Grey (Samoa Scopa), Logovi’i Mulipola (Leicester Tigers), Anthony Perenise (Bristol), Sakaria Taulafo (Stade Français), Fa’atiga Lemalu (Bourgoin), Filo Paulo (Benetton Treviso), Joe Tekori (Toulouse), Kane Thompson (Newcastle Falcons), Maurie Fa’asavalu (Oyonnax), Alafoti Faosiliva (Bath), Jack Lam (Bristol), Ofisa Treviranus (London Irish, captain), TJ Ioane (Sale Sharks), Sanele Vavae Tuilagi (Carcassonne).

Backs: Vavao Afemai (Samoa Vaiala), Kahn Fotuali’i (Northampton Saints), Patrick Fa’apale (Samoa Vaiala), Tusi Pisi (Suntory Sungoliath), Michael Stanley (unattached), Rey Lee-Lo (Cardiff Blues), Johnny Leota (Sale Sharks), Paul Perez (Coastal Sharks), George Pisi (Northampton Saints), Fa’atoina Autagavaia (Nevers), Ken Pisi (Northampton Saints), Alesana Tuilagi (Newcastle Falcons), Tim Nanai-Williams (Ricoh Black Rams).

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