With the Samoan national side very much in the spotlight in recent weeks, we take a look at what their starting XV could have looked like;
Despite originally declaring his allegiances to the All Blacks, Nanai-Williams now looks set to try to make his way back into contention for the Samoan side ahead of the World Cup. Nanai-Williams has been in superb form for the Chiefs this year and topped it off with a starring role for the Barbarians.
Despite growing up in New Zealand, Savea’s Samoan parents meant he could have player for either nation. Savea is the player most likened to Jonah Lomu in modern rugby and has been a constant in the All Blacks side in recent years. There’s no doubting that he would have been an even more important player for Samoa if that was the route he chose to go down.
Despite being born in Samoa and having several older brothers playing for the Samoan national side, Manu opted to turn out for England where he was raised and educated. Despite this he still clearly has strong ties with Samoa and would no doubt be a huge asset to the side where he could have been one half of an incredibly powerful midfield outside of Nonu.
With Samoan heritage, Ma’a Nonu is another All Black that could have had a very different international career. The All Blacks test veteran has developed into one of the best all round centres in world rugby, using his strength and power to help get over the gain line. There’s no doubting his style of play would be ideally suited to the Samoan side.
11.Sonny Bill Williams
Sonny Bill is yet another All Black with Samoan heritage, and could therefore have been a star for the South Sea Island side. Although his natural position is centre, Williams has played out on the wing for the All Blacks and would be likely to be effective wherever he was deployed on the field. His off-loading game would be awesome to watch with so many powerful strike runners around him.
Toomua’s father is actually Samoan meaning he could have always opted for selection by Samoa if he hadn’t made the Wallabies squad. Toomua may have now established himself as an international centre but is also more than capable of stepping in at fly-half. Fly-half is one area where Samoa could have done with some more options so Toomua would be a welcome addition to the side.
Fotuali’i was actually born in New Zealand but opted to play his rugby for Samoa instead. Despite this Fotuali’i has developed into one of the best scum halves in world rugby and is now a key member of the current Samoan side. There’s no doubting though that the All Blacks would have loved to have kept him in New Zealand.
Bruising Toulon back rower Chris Masoe may have opted for the All Blacks jersey, but could instead have turned out for the country of his birth, Samoa. His experience playing for Toulon in the Top 14 would no doubt have benefited the Samoan side, whilst his powerful displays in the loose would have been ideal for helping get the side over the gainline.
With Samoan parents, Vito is another All Black who could have turned out for the islanders. He may be more accustomed to playing on the blindside in New Zealand, but he is too good to leave out for Samoa. There’s no doubting that this incredibly physical back row would be more than a challenge for any international side.
Kaino has battled his way back into the All Blacks starting line-up and now looks set to remain there right through into the World Cup next year. His Samoan heritage means that he could have been turning out for Manu Samoa instead. With his experience to date, Kaino could easily have been the Samoan captain where he would no doubt have been a huge asset to the team.
Luatua is another All Black of Samoan descent who no doubt would have been a huge asset to the team. His recent exclusion from the All Blacks European tour is a huge shame as he could instead of been aidint the Samoan cause. His ability to play second row or back row would have been a huge asset to Samoa where he could have added physicality in either role.
The Wallabies monster second row was given the opportunity to play for either Australia or Samoa when he first broke onto the scene. Skelton may not be the fittest of second rows in World Rugby but he’s definitely one of the biggest. His ball carrying ability and presence around the field would have hugely benefited a Samoan pack who can sometimes be pushed around, particularly in the scrum.
Former All Black Afoa is another player who could have called on his Samoan heritage to join the side. Afoa is now a key man at Gloucester in the Premiership having previously been integral to an impressive Ulster side. His scrummaging would have been a huge bonus to a Samoan side that often spends too much time on the back foot.
As an All Blacks test centurion there’s no doubting that Mealamu would have been a huge asset to Samoa should he have opted to play with his brother on the international stage. Another wiley scrummager, Mealamu no doubt would have added some extra ballast to the creaky Samoan scrum whilst his experience would have been of huge benefit in the side.
Another Samoan New Zealander, Blues and All Blacks prop Charlie Faumuina would have been another welcome addition to the front row. He may not have quite made it as a first choice prop for the All Blacks but he’s certainly not far off. At 27 he is now heading into the prime years of his career so would have been a huge asset to Samoa.
Whilst a lot of these players only have vague connections to Samoa, all of them would have been eligible for selection had they not previously turned out for another international side. It is also important to note that there are a whole host of other top class player missing in the likes of Francis Saili, Frank Halai, Ben Tameifuna, Logovi’i Mulipola and the Jonhston brothers.