Head coach Seilala Mapusua named his squad to take on the Maori All Blacks and Tonga

Head coach Seilala Mapusua named his first Samoa squad on Friday, announcing 31 players to take on the Maori All Blacks and Tonga in June and July. The face-off with Tonga will also serve as a Rugby World Cup 2023 qualifier. It will be the first action for the side since the 2019 World Cup in Japan.

There are 13 uncapped players included, while Canterbury Crusaders prop Michael Alaalatoa was named as captain – he is one of 11 players returning since the 2019 World Cup and one of 13 NZ-based players. Five of those come from club rugby. There are four Samoa-based athletes involved.

Mapasua said of the selections: “This is a very important initial campaign for us playing the qualifier against Tonga and also privileged to play the Maori All Blacks as lead up to the qualifier.

“This will be my first campaign and considering the impacts of Covdi19, it wasn’t an easy task selecting the Manu. However, I am very confident we have the best players to represent the jersey and earn us a spot for Rugby World Cup 2023.”

Mapasua was talking at the Manu Samoa jersey launch at Sky City, Auckland.

The Samoan union have also rebranded themselves as Lakapi Samoa – which includes a new team logo, sporting the Teuila national flower.

Samoa squad

Dwayne Polataivao sports the new-look logo (Getty Images)

Samoa’s general manager of high performance, Seumanu Douglas Ngau Chun said earlier in the month: “It’s trying to be visible to the world with a unique brand and just to be in line with other countries that are using their national flowers as their logo, hence why the Chairman and the Board opted for Teuila which is our national flower for Samoa.

“The crest, sometimes it symbolises colonialism at times and it’s still an old-school logo, but we’ve changed it and it’s a reflection of the new direction we’re heading as a union. We expect a lot of people will not agree with the change but it’s something that we’re confident it will take us further in terms of our branding and exposure to the outside world.”

The new look has come in for some criticism, with some suggesting the new logo looks like that of the New South Wales Waratahs, and that the rebrand was a waste of funds.

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