World Cup player profiles: Samoa

Date published: September 11 2015

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Ahead of the 2015 Rugby World Cup, we take a look at all of the players set to feature in England. Next up, Samoa.

Forwards: Viliamu Afatia, Jake Grey, Logovii Mulipola, Anthony Perenise, Sakaria Taulafo, Wayne Ole Avei, Manu Leiataua, Motu Matu'u, Faatiga Lemalu, Filo Paulo, Kane Thompson, Joe Tekori, Maurie Faasavalu, Alafoti Faosiliva, TJ Ioane, Jack Lam, Vavae Tuilagi, Ofisa Treviranus (Captain)

Backs: Vavao Afemai, Kahn Fotuali'i, Patrick Faapale, Tusiata Pisi, Mike Stanley, Rey Lee Lo, Johnny Leota, George Pisi, Paul Perez, Faatoina Autagavaia, Ken Pisi, Tim Nanai Williams, Alesana Tuilagi


VAVAO AFEMAI

 Scrum-half    1.68m    65kg    18.02.1992

The 23-year-old broke onto the international scene in 2014 when he made his Test bow for Samoa against Japan. He has since been a regular campaigner.


VILIAMU AFATIA

 Prop    1.90m    106kg    24.05.1990

Afatia plays his club rugby in France with Agen, for who he scored two tries coming off the bench during the 2014-2015 season in the Pro D2. The 190cm and 106kg powerful unit first appeared for Samoa back in 2012 during the Pacific Nations Cup against Tonga. All of Afatia’s early appearances for his country have come as a replacement, including against England at Twickenham in November 2014 and in the historic Test match against the All Blacks in Apia in 2015.


FAATOINA AUTAGAVAIA

 Full-back    1.83m    87kg    18.09.1988

Autagavaia currently plays rugby in France for Nevers. He broke onto the domestic scene while representing New Zealand team Northland in 2012, which resulted in his Test debut for Samoa that same year. In 2014 he joined Northampton Saints on a one-year stint, earning 10 caps.


 OLE AVEI

  Hooker    1.78m    114kg    13.06.1983

Currently playing his club career in France with Bordeaux-Begles, Avei started out in Australia with the Queensland Reds. He briefly spent time in New Zealand with Waikato before heading to France, where he has made over 100 appearances for the Top 14 side. Avei’s international debut came in the Pacific Nations Cup in 2011 against Japan, before playing for Samoa in that year’s Rugby World Cup. Avi is also a former Australia U21 international and was born in Wellington, New Zealand. He is the nephew of Australia winger Digby Ioane.


PATRICK FAAPALE

 Fly-half     1.80m    75kg    05.03.1991

Faapale made his Test bow in 2014 for Samoa. He is mainly utilized of the bench as an impact player for first choice fly-half Michael Stanley, however he proved his worth in the 2015 Pacific Nations Cup, kicking vital penalties in crucial game deciding moments.


MAURIE FAASAVALU

  Flanker    1.91m     112kg    12.01.1980

Fa’asavalu began his club career in Rugby League, playing over 160 games for St Helens in England and even playing for Great Britain for who he scored on debut. He also played for England in 2008 Rugby League World Cup. In 2010 he crossed codes to join Harlequins, spending four years with the Premiership club including the successful 2012/2013 season when they won the English title. While he might have represented England in League,  Fa’asavalu made his Union international debut back in 2002 against South Africa and went on to play in the 2003 Rugby World Cup, scoring two tries against Uruguay. He was called-up by Samoa again in 2011 on his return to the sport, starting all of Samoa’s games in the World Cup and coming on as a replacement in the 2015 Test with New Zealand in Apia.


ALAFOTI FAOSILIVA

 Flanker    1.85m    112kg    28.10.1985

A Samoa international since his debut in 2006 against Japan, Fa’osiliva is yet to play in a Rugby World Cup for Samoa having missed selection for the 2007 and 2011 tournaments. He scored his first Test try against New Zealand in September 2008, before scoring two in a game against Fiji in the 2010 Pacific Nations Cup. Fa’osiliva also scored a memorable try in 2015 when Samoa played the All Blacks in Apia for the first time. His club career started briefly at Toulon and after time on the Sevens circuit he joined Bristol in England, before moving to close rivals Bath in 2013 where his powerful carries and defence made him a fan favourite.


KAHN FOTUALII

 Scrum-half    1.84m    94kg    22.05.1982

A world-class scrum-half, Fotuali’i currently plays in the Premiership in England for Northampton Saints. Born in Auckland in New Zealand, Fotuali’i spent three years playing for the Crusaders in Super Rugby from 2008 to 2011. In the ITM Cup he spent five years with Tasman before joining Hawke’s Bay. Fotuali’i left New Zealand after the World Cup to join the Ospreys in Wales before heading to Northampton. Fotuali’i made his Samoa debut in 2010 against Japan and scored a try in his first game, going on to play in Samoa’s win over Australia in 2011 and at the Rugby World Cup. He started for Samoa against the All Blacks in 2015. 


JAKE GREY

 Prop    1.70m     109kg    17.02.1984

The 31-year-old is one of the few Samoan based players. Grey first broke onto the international scene in 2014 when he made his Test debut against Japan. 


TJ IOANE

 Flanker/Number eight    1.82m    104kg    09.05.1989

Ioane was born in Motootua but grew up in New Zealand, attending Wellington College, and first made his name playing in New Zealand’s ITM Cup with Otago. Ioane spent four years with the side and was first capped by Super Rugby franchise the Highlanders in 2013. Ioane made 18 appearances for the Highlanders between 2013 and 2014 before moving to Sale Sharks in the Premiership in England. Ioane’s Test debut for Samoa came against Canada in Vannes in 2014 and he played again England at Twickenham eight days later.


CENSUS JOHNSTON

 Prop    1.91m    130kg    06.05.1981

One of the best tightheads in the world, Johnston made his Test debut back in 2005. The bulky prop went on to represent Samoa at the 2007 and 2011 Rugby World Cups. He currently plies his trade for French club, Toulouse and has raked up over 150 caps, since joining them in 2009. Johnson previously played for Saracens, Biarritz and Taranaki before joining Toulouse in 2009. The Samoan stalwart was called into Samoa's 2015 Rugby World Cup squad as a late injury replacement despite having previously announced his retirement for test rugby in controversial circumstances.


JACK LAM

 Flanker    1.88m    103kg    18.11.1987

Born in Hamilton in New Zealand, Lam is the cousin of former Samoa great Pat Lam. His playing career started with Tasman in 2009 before joining Waikato a year later. Lam made his Super Rugby debut in 2011 with the Hurricanes and spent three years with the New Zealand franchise. Lam made his debut for Samoa against Scotland in Durban in 2013, scoring his first international try in November that year when Samoa lost to Georgia in Tbilisi. 


MANU LEIATAUA

 Hooker    1.82m    105kg    26.12.1986

Born in Wellington in New Zealand, Leiataua has spent his club career with North Harbour. He made his debut in Samoa back in 2013 during the quadrangular tournament in South Africa, with Leiataua’s debut coming against Scotland in Durban. All of Leiataua’s first five appearances for his country came off the replacements bench, including in 2015 when Samoa took on the All Blacks in a historic Test match in Apia. He also appeared against England at Twickenham in November 2014.


FA'ATIGA LEMALU

 Lock    2.01m    115kg    17.04.1989

Lemalu plays his club rugby in the Japanse Top League with Munakata Sanix Blues. Born in Otahuhu, Lemalu’s impressive physical stature has seen him feature regularly for Samoa since his debut back in 2012. Lemalu’s first match was against Tonga in the Pacific Nations Cup and he scored his first tries for his country 12 days later with two scores in Samoa’s win over Japan in Tokyo. Lemalu was recently used as a replacement for Samoa in their 2014 Test match against England at Twickenham.


JOHNNY LEOTA

 Centre    1.83m    93kg    21.01.1984

Born in Palmerston North in New Zealand, Johnny Leota began his professional career in New Zealand with Manawatu. Leota made over 50 appearances for the side and was first capped by the Highlanders in 2008, becoming a key member of the side. Leota played consistently for the side between 2008 and 2009 before joining Sale Sharks in England after the Rugby World Cup in 2011, for who he has made over 80 appearances. Leota made his Samoa debut against Fiji in Suva in 2011 but missed the Rugby World Cup. He scored his first Test try in 2012 against Wales and started in 2015 against the All Blacks in Apia.


REY LEE LO

 Centre    1.81m    96kg    20.02.1987

The 28-year-old currently plays rugby in Wales for the Cardiff Blues. Lee-Lo has mostly been playing his rugby in New Zealand representing Counties Manukau in the ITM Cup, earning over 50 caps. Lee-Lo also represented the Crusaders and Hurricanes in Super Rugby. He made his Test bow in 2014.


MOTU MATU'U

 Hooker    1.85m    111kg    30.04.1987

Matu'u plays rugby in New Zealand for Wellington Lions in the ITM Cup and the Hurricanes in Super Rugby. The 30-year-old made his Test debut for Samoa in 2015.


LOGOVII MULIPOLA

 Prop    1.92m    124kg    11.03.1987

The 28-year-old powerhouse plays club rugby in England for Leicester Tigers. He joined the team on trial in 2013 and has been with them since, earning over 70 caps. Mulipola's Test bow came in 2009 and as a result he represented Samoa in the 2011 Rugby World Cup.


FILO PAULO

 Lock    2.01m    122kg    06.11.1987

Born in Wellington, New Zealand, the 201cm and 122kg second row first started his career with a brief stint in Ireland with Ulster. Paulo then returned to New Zealand for two years with the Blues in Super Rugby and North Harbour in the ITM Cup. Paulo made his Test debut for Samoa in a November Test against Canada in Wales and started all but one of the games he played for Samoa between 2012-2014. Paulo scored his first Test try against South Africa in Pretoria in June 2013. Paulo left Cardiff Blues in 2015 to join Italian PRO12 team Treviso after a successful stint in Wales. 


ANTHONY PERENISE

 Prop    1.82m    118kg    18.10.1982 

The veteran prop born in Porirua, New Zealand, Perenise currently plays in England for Championship side Bristol. His domestic career however started in New Zealand in Super Rugby and ITM Cup, playing for Wellington and the Hurricanes before stints with the Highlanders and Hawke’s Bay. Perenise arguably made his biggest impression however after moving to Bath in 2011, where he spent three seasons and built up his reputation playing in the Premiership. Perenise made his international debut in 2010 against Tonga in the Pacific Nations Cup, starting six straight matches that year before his run ended with a substitute appearance against Scotland. Perenise started three games at the 2011 Rugby World Cup and was a replacement in 2015 when Samoa hosted New Zealand in Apia.


PAUL PEREZ

 Centre    1.82m    102kg    26.07.1986

Born in Motootua in Samoa, Perez began his career in Sevens as a key member of the side during 2005 and 2006. Perez switched to XVs in 2006 and joined Taranaki, spending three seasons with the side before joining the Eastern Province Kings in South Africa where he became a key player in their Currie Cup campaigns before joining the Sharks on a trial in 2015. Perez made his debut in 2012 against Tonga but had to wait three years for his next Test appearance, against New Zealand in Apia in 2015 when he started at centre after all his previous caps came on the wing.


GEORGE PISI

 Centre    1.85m    94kg     29.06.1986

Pisi currently plays in England for the Northampton Saints and has earned over 80 caps since he joined them in 2011. The Samoan born moved to New Zealand at age three and as a result represented North Harbour and Taranaki. The 29-year-old represented the Blues in Super Rugby from 2006-2010. In 2011 he had a one-year stint with french club Clermont earning only seven caps. He represented New Zealand at youth level before making his Test debut for Samoa in 2010, and as a result represented them in the 2011 Rugby World Cup.


KEN PISI

 Wing    1.83m    91kg    24.02.1989 

Pisi was born in Auckland in New Zealand and is the brother of Samoa internationals George and Tusi Pisi. His career kicked off when he moved to England to join his brother George at Northampton Saints in 2012, for who he has made over 50 appearances already. Pisi moved to England from North Harbour and has been a success in the Premiership. He made his international debut in June 2012 against Tonga and was a replacement for the 2015 Test against New Zealand in Apia.


TUSI PISI

  Fly-half    1.83m    93kg    18.06.1982

Born in the Samoan capital, Apia, Pisi was educated at Massey High School in Auckland and is the brother of George and Ken Pisi. Starting his career with North Harbour in the ITM Cup, Pisi moved to Toulon in 2007 where he spent two seasons before joining Suntory Goliath in Japan in 2010. Pisi represented both the Crusaders and the Hurricanes in Super Rugby. A New Zealand U21 international, Pisi played for the Pacific Islanders in 2006 and made his debut for Samoa five years later against Japan. Pisi scored his first try for Samoa against Scotland in 2012 and featured in the 2011 Rugby World Cup. He started for Samoa against the All Blacks in 2015.


 MICHAEL STANLEY

 Fly-half    1.84m    93kg    29.12.1989

Born in Auckland in New Zealand, Stanley is the cousin of All Blacks centre Benson Stanley. He made his senior career debut for Counties Manukau in the ITM Cup in New Zealand before winning his first cap for Samoa later that year. Stanley’s first appearance was off the bench against Italy before he made his first start a week later against Canada in Vannes, scoring three penalties and two conversions. Stanley signed for Irish province Ulster in 2015.


SAKARIA TAULAFO

 Prop    1.83m    120kg    29.01.1983 

Born in Motootua in Samoa, Taulafo attended Nelson College in New Zealand and began his career with Nelson Bays before moving to Tasman in 2005. Four years in the ITM Cup were followed by a move to Wasps in the Premiership where Taulafo spent four successful seasons. He was called up not long after joining Wasps, making his Test debut off the bench in November 2009 against Wales in Cardiff. Taulafo’s first start came eight days later against France in Paris. Taulafo left Wasps for Stade Francais in 2013 and continued to be a key player for Samoa, starting against the All Blacks in Apia in 2013.


JOE TEKORI

 Lock    1.98m    122kg    17.12.1983

Another Samoa forward born in Motootua, Tekori was educated at the famous Wesley College in New Zealand whose alma mater include Jonah Lomu. Tekori took his career to France in 2007 at the age of 23 to join Castres where he spent six years, making over 150 appearances for the side and coming off the bench in his final game for Castres in the Top 14 Final when they defeated Toulon. Tekori joined Toulouse in 2013 but made his Samoa debut much earlier in 2007 as a replacement against South Africa. Tekori started his first game a week later against Japan with his first Test try coming in November 2009 against France. Tekori played in the 2007 and 2011 World Cups and was a replacement against New Zealand in Apia in 2015.


 KANE THOMPSON

 Lock    1.98m    112kg    09.01.1982

Born in Wellington in New Zealand, Thompson began his career with Southland and the Highlanders in the country of his birth before heading to France. Thompson played for Dax between 2007 to 2010 before heading back to New Zealand to play for Southland, Hawke’s Bay and the Chiefs in Super Rugby with who he won a Super Rugby title. A stint in Japan followed before heading back to the Chiefs in 2014, before Thompson joined Newcastle Falcons in England. Thompson’s debut came against Fiji in May 2007 and he went on to play for Samoa at the World Cup that year, scoring his first Test try against the USA in Saint-Etienne. Thompson also featured at the 2011 World Cup, starting all of Samoa’s matches, and started at lock against New Zealand in 2015 in Apia.


OFISA TREVIRANUS

 Flanker/Number eight    1.87m    108kg    31.03.1984 

Treviranus was named Samoa captain in 2015 by head coach Stephen Betham ahead of the Pacific Nations Cup and Rugby World Cup. His career began with the Samoa Sevens side after a stint with Irish side Connacht. Treviranus then moved to England where he joined Premiership club London Irish in 2011 – to date he has made over 50 appearances for the club. Treviranus was first capped by Samoa in 2009 against Japan, scoring his first try that year against Papua New Guinea, and played at the 2011 Rugby World Cup for his country. He started at number eight and captained Samoa when they played the All Blacks in Apia in 2015.


AHSEE TUALA

 Full-back    1.91m    103kg    23.08.1989

Tuala began his senior rugby career in New Zealand with Counties Manukau for who he made over 50 appearances between 2009 to 2014. His impressive form for the side led to a move to Northampton Saints in England as injury cover, with Tuala impressing so much that the club extended his contract. Tuala went on to make his international debut for Samoa in November 2014 against Canada in Vannes. 


ALESANA TUILAGI

 Wing    1.85m    117kg    24.02.1981

Born in Fogapoa in Samoa, Tuilagi is part of one of rugby’s most famous families with his brothers Anitelea, Freddie and Henry all playing for Samoa and Manu Tuilagi playing for England and the British and Irish Lions. Tuilagi’s career started in Parma before eight very successful years with Leicester Tigers, for who he made over 160 appearances and scored 63 tries. He spent two years in Japan before returning to England with Newcastle. Tuilagi appeared for the Pacific Islanders in 2006 and made his Samoa debut in 2002 against Fiji. He scored four tries in a match against Tonga in 2005 and played in the 2007 and 2011 Rugby World Cups, scoring a hat-trick against Namibia in 2011. Tuilagi made his first appearance for Samoa in two years against the All Blacks in 2015.


 VAVAE TUILAGI

 Number eight    1.91m    94kg    15.06.1988

Tuilagi is the younger brother of Samoan internationals Henry, Freddie, Alesana, Anitelea Tuilagi, and the older brother of England international Manu Tuilagi. The 27-year-old first broke onto the scene while representing Samoa at the 2008 IRB Junior World Championship. In 2011 he joined french club RC Narbonne on a two-year stint, earning 32 caps. Tuilagi joined french club, US Carcassonne in 2013.


TIM NANAI WILLIAMS

 Full-back    1.81m    87kg    12.06.1989 

A star for the Chiefs in Super Rugby, Nanai-Williams is the cousin of New Zealand star Sonny Bill Williams. The rapid back made his debut in 2008 for Counties Manukau in the ITM Cup with his Super Rugby debut coming two years later in 2010. Nanai-Williams helped the Chiefs to two Super Rugby titles in 2012 and 2013. After playing Sevens for New Zealand and representing the schoolboys side, he elected to play for Samoa and qualified by playing for the Sevens side in 2014/2015 before making his debut at full-back against the All Blacks in Apia in 2015.

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