More than a dozen players who took part in the 2019 Global Rapid Rugby Showcase series are in contention to represent their country in the World Cup starting next month in Japan. Fiji lead the way with six players, while Tonga feature four, Samoa three and USA one.
Fiji’s squad includes four forwards who took to the field for Fijian Latui this year, while exciting Latui scrumhalves Frank Lomani and Henry Seniloli have also made the grade. Coach John McKee has selected a strong 32-man squad but has another hard decision to make with one player to be trimmed ahead of the tournament to meet the 31-player maximum allowed for each nation.
The Western Force has four players from their 2019 squad potentially lining up in Japan. AJ Alatimu, Henry Stowers and Henry Taefu all impressed as part of Samoa’s Pacific Nations Cup team while Marcel Brache has been a mainstay in the US Eagles side over the past few seasons and has all but booked his ticket to the big dance.
Tonga’s team includes three players to pull on the Kagifa Samoa jersey in the Pacific Showcase Series, while Asia Pacific Dragons rake Sefo Sakalia is also in the mix for the ‘Ikale Tahi. All four players could line up against a familiar foe as the Western Force get ready to tackle Tonga on Saturday, 24 August as the pacific islanders finalise their World Cup preparations.
Whoever makes it to Japan will no doubt savour the experience. Fiji, who are ranked 10th in the world, start their campaign against two-time World Cup winners Australia on September 21 in Sapporo before facing Georgia, Wales and Uruguay in Pool D. The Fijian’s will fancy their chances of progressing to the quarters while Samoa face a tough group with hosts Japan and northern hemisphere powerhouse Ireland in Pool A. The US and Tonga have a major uphill battle after drawing Pool C along with England, France and Argentina.
Mesulame Dolokoto (Fijian Latui), Frank Lomani (Fijian Latui), Eroni Mawi (Fijian Latui), Henry Seniloli (Fijian Latui), Mosese Voka (Fijian Latui), Ratu Vere Vugakoto (Fijian Latui)
AJ Alatimu (Western Force), Henry Stowers (Western Force), Henry Taefu (Western Force)
Latiume Fosita (Kagifa Samoa), Leon Fukofuka (Kagifa Samoa), Sefo Sakalia (Asia Pacific Dragons), Fotu Lokotui (Kagifa Samoa)
Marcel Brache (Western Force)