Thursday, 3 March 2016

What would an XV exclusively from the Samoan system look like?

A look at what a Samoan team would look like without New Zealand born, schooled and trained players.

All should know by now about the totally lazy misunderstanding of the relationship between Samoan and New Zealand rugby which still gets lots of column inches. For a detailed debunking of that myth see this article here.

We ever so regularly see fantasy Samoan eligible XVs imagining a side including All Blacks who are of Samoan heritage. But very rarely is it pointed out that barely any of that talent are products solely of the Samoan system, as opposed to players who have either been born, raised or schooled and largely trained in New Zealand.

So here is a different fantasy XV. A Samoan team of players who solely went through the Samoan development system, with no schooling or training in New Zealand.

1. Logovi'i Mulipola

2. Andrew Williams
3. Jake Grey
4. Levi Asifa'amatala
5. Maselino Paulino
6. Alafoti Fa'osiliva
7. Maurie Fa'asavalu
8. Ofisa Treviranus
9. Vavao Afemai
10. Patrick Fa'apale
11. Alesana Tuilagi
12. Faialaga Afamasaga
13. Fautua Otto
14. David Lemi
15. Fa'atoina Autagavaia

Now, obviously there is some talent in that team, particularly in the back row. But if we're being honest, you could find a better New Zealand or Australian born or schooled player of Samoan descent in every single position, and in some cases several.

When you compare that tight 5 to one of Samoan descent that was born or raised in New Zealand or Australia and there is simply a huge gulf in quality. In fact, over the last 4 year RWC cycle, Samoa only fielded one lock (Maselino Paulino) who wasn't educated in New ZealandLikewise the half backs are miles from the calibre of Kahn Fotuali'i and Tusi Pisi.

If you compared a New Zealand born or raised Samoan eligible XV next to one only from the Samoan system, the hypothetical match would be a massacre. Much like it was a massacre the last time Samoa fielded a mostly local team against the All Blacks in 2008.

Since 2010, the only players from the Samoan U20 side to have graduated to the senior side are Vavao Afemai, Patrick Fa'apale, Robert Lilomaiava, Oneone Fa'afou and Ropeti Lafo. It can hardly be argued any of those players have made a significant impact in senior international rugby with just 21 caps between them.

Also we've recently we've seen Samoa A, supposedly a group of the best local based players, lose 85-0 to Melbourne Rebels.

These facts should emphasise just how deluded the likes of Harry Schuster, the Pacific Islanders representative on the WR council are, when he cited a lack of local players as the reason behind the disappointing RWC campaign.

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