- Team Name: Toa Samoa
- First Appearance: 1995
- RLWC2013 Group: Group B
- RLWC2013 Opponents: Papua New Guinea, France and New Zealand
- Tournament best: Quarter-Final (2000)
Ones to Watch: Kylie Leuluai, Tony Puletua and Matt Utai
Read more about these great players and why they are ones to watch during RLWC2013.
Currently contracted to play for Leeds Rhinos as part of the Super League, Kylie Leuluai wears a nickname that puts fear in the opposition. Known to his teammates as ‘Hulk’ the 5ft 10 17 stone prop forward is renowned for being able to bench press 225kg which is the heaviest weight to be lifted by an NRL player.
Leuluai was announced to represent Samoa during 2008 Rugby League World Cup and was named Samoan player of the year in 2009.
Samoan International Tony Puletua primarily plays in the Second Row. Puletua made his debut for Penrith Panthers in 1997 and was captain of the side in 2003 when they defeated the Sydney Roosters in the Grand Final. Currently playing for St Helens, Puletua is a key player in the team and has been since signing in 2008.
Puletua was also chosen to represent his country in the 2008 Rugby League World Cup where his nation achieved Quarter Final status.
Born in New Zealand, Utai is also of Samoan descent and made himself available for Samoa's 2008 Rugby League World Cup campaign. He was named in the Samoa squad, and went on to score two tries in his three appearances on the wing. His career has been spent mainly overseas but enjoyed a brief spell over on our cooler shores when he was signed to play for Wales Crusaders. However due to a knee injury, failed to recover and play for the team.
Despite this injury, Utai has since fully recovered and has been playing as wing for West Tigers regularly since 2011.
A Bit of History
The Australasian influence on Samoa, plus the Samoans’ playing presence in Super League and the NRL, mean that Samoa are well placed to perform well in the 2013 World Cup.
Previously known in Rugby League circles as Western Samoa, the islanders have been competing on the international Rugby League stage for over two decades.
The Samoan’s first major competition was the 1988 Pacific Cup, where they made a great first impression by going all the way to the final where they suffered a narrow 19-16 defeat at the hands of New Zealand Maoris.
Samoa’s World Cup bow came in 1995 and five years later they defeated New Zealand Maoris and Scotland to reach the quarter-finals, where they ran into eventual winners Australia.
Grouped with Tonga and Ireland in 2008, many pundits were expectant but Samoa did not deliver. But with a stronger domestic structure and some high-profile names to call upon from the northern and southern hemispheres, Samoa cannot be taken for granted in 2013.