Seven Samoan players in the World Rugby Pacific Combine team

PHOTO: Frank Lomani of the Barbarians charges upfield during the Killik Cup match between the Barbarians and Argentina at Twickenham. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Source: Rugby Pass

20 MARCH 2019: Seven Samoan rugby players out of the Samoa A that competed in the recent Pacific Challenge in Fiji have been named in a Pacific Combine team named yesterday under the guidance of former Waratahs coach Chris Hickey.

Rugby Pass reports that the project is designed by World Rugby to help players in the Pacific Islands earn contracts abroad and continue their professional careers.

The programme brings together players from the Fiji Warriors, Samoa A and Tonga A squads and attempts to give a showcase to their abilities, provide elite-level coaching and find suitable fits for them in the professional game.

The players come into the camp off the back of the Pacific Challenge, where the Fijian Warriors wrapped up a perfect record of three wins from three games, pipping Junior Japan to the title, who were still able to record victories over Samoa A and Tonga A.

Understandably, Fijian representation is high at the Combine, with loosehead prop and former U20 captain Eroni Mawi and current senior Fiji scrum-half Frank Lomani among the players in attendance.

Other Flying Fijians have been included in the forms of hookers Mesulame Dolokoto and Veremalua Vugakoto, whilst tighthead prop Luke Tagi completes an all-Fijian front row that offers plenty of potential.

Recent Fijian U20s Caleb Muntz, Livai Natave, Simione Kuruvoli, Meli Taraga and Tira Patterson are in attendance, with all but Patterson eligible for another year of representation with Fiji U20 at this year’s World Rugby U20 Championship in Argentina.

Fiji head coach John McKee recently singled out both Tagi and Muntz for their impressive performances in the Pacific Challenge and didn’t rule out either of them featuring for Fiji later this year.

From Samoa comes the powerful second row combination of Potu Leavasa and Richmond Patea, whilst versatile back Leonaitasi Feke arguably headlines the group of players from Tonga at the Combine.

With Fiji in particular offering up a stellar cast of attendees this year, expect club coaches from all around the world to be watching on intently over the next week.

FULL SQUAD

Fiji Players: Veramu Dikidikilati, Mesulame Dolokoto, Johnny Dyer, Simione Kuruvoli, Frank Lomani, Enele Malele, Eroni Mawi, Caleb Muntz, Livai Natave, Tira Patterson, Luke Tagi, Meli Turaga, Veremalua Vugakoto, Osea Waqa.

Samoan Players: Andrew Fauoo, Simon Fauoo, Potu Leavasa, Phillip Luki, Richmond Patea, AJ Sagaga, Josh Young.

Tongan Players: Leonaitasi Feke, Paea Fonoifua, Roy Lolesio, Rodney Togotea and Katilimoni Tuipulotu.