4 Nov 2022
What are the teams for Tonga v Samoa men in the quarter-final of the Rugby League World Cup?
The Pacific Islanders will face off in a huge clash in Warrington on Sunday afternoon
By Josh Graham
Kristian Woolf can call upon his former St Helens star Will Hopoate for the hotly-anticipated quarter-final showdown with Samoa after the utility back returned to fitness having missed all three group games.
Hopoate is included in the 19-man squad for Sunday's showdown in Warrington but there is no room for his clubmate Konrad Hurrell who misses out having been named in the squad for the Cook Islands before being left out of the 17.
Hopoate is set to start at full-back for the 2017 semi-finalists after he took the place of young Brisbane Bronco Tesi Niu, who can feel aggrieved having scored a hat-trick against the Kukis.
South Sydney Rabbitohs hooker Siliva Havili is also included having shaken off a niggle he sustained during the NRL finals.
Matt Parish has named an unchanged squad as Samoa look to secure a potential semi-final rematch with England with a victory.
Having been humbled 66-6 by the hosts in the tournament opener, Parish's star-studded side have returned with a vengeance, putting both Greece and France to the sword to tee up a spicy encounter.
Tonga: 6 Talatau Amone, 18 David Fifita, 8 Addin Fonua-Blake, 17 Moeaki Fotuaika, 9 Siliva Havili, 1 Will Hopoate, 24 Isaiya Katoa, 5 Sione Katoa, 11 Felise Kaufusi, 12 Keaon Koloamatangi, 7 Tui Lolohea, 14 Soni Luke, 21 Ben Murdoch-Masila, 4 Will Penisini, 19 Mosese Suli, 16 Tevita Tatola, 10 Siosiua Taukeiaho (co-captain), 13 Jason Taumalolo (captain), 2 Daniel Tupou
Samoa: 4 Stephen Crichton, 20 Chanel Harris-Tavita, 15 Royce Hunt, 23 Oregon Kaufusi, 25 Tim Lafai, 21 Fa’amanu Brown, 9 Danny Levi, 6 Jarome Luai, 2 Taylan May, 7 Anthony Milford, 8 Josh Papali’i, 10 Junior Paulo (captain), 11 Ligi Sao, 26 Ken Sio, 12 Jaydn Su’a, 1 Joseph Sua’ali’i, 17 Martin Taupau, 5 Brian To’o, 22 Kelma Tuilagi
Look no further than the middle for the key area in this titanic tussle.
The NRL quartet consisting of Tonga's Jason Taumalolo and Siosiua Taukeiaho against Samoa's Junior Paulo and Josh Papali'i will have a big say in how proceedings unfold.
Taumalolo announced his return in style with a thunderous showing against the Cook Islands but Paramatta prop Paulo was also back to his best as a bone-jolting hit on Arthur Mourgue showed.
Taukeiaho took a well-earned rest against the Kukis having skippered Tonga during Taumalolo's suspension but will be fresh for his return while Origin front-rower Papali'i is always a tremendous threat at the line.
Where the game will be won?
The match-up in the halves is an intriguing one with Samoa boasting the more experienced playmakers in two-time NRL champion Jarome Luai and Anthony Milford.
Huddersfield's Tui Lolohead brings his considerable expertise to the Tonga line-up but his teenage half-back partner Isaiya Katoa is just 18.
However, the Dolphins-bound star has shown he has what it takes to mix it at the highest level in this World Cup so far.
Ultimately, it will boil down to who can get their side ticking as the big boys do battle up front in the arm wrestle.
Both sides possess potent wide backs in rich try-scoring form, so whoever can provide the most opportunities for them is likely to end up on top and head to the Emirates for the semi-final.
Tonga and Samoa have met 20 times previously in men’s Tests, Tonga winning 10 and drawing one of those games (L9); Tonga have won their last two meetings with Samoa after having won only one of their five prior clashes (L4). This will be their first meeting since a 38-22 win to Tonga in June 2018.
This will be just the third time that Tonga and Samoa have met at the men’s Rugby League World Cup; Samoa won their first meeting 20-12 in 2008 while Tonga were triumphant 32-18 when they clashed at the 2017 group stage.
Samoa have used 25 different players throughout the 2021 men’s Rugby League World Cup, more than any other team at the tournament and three more than Tonga (22).
Tonga have won nine of their last 10 games at the men’s Rugby League World Cup (L1) including their three group stage games at the 2021 tournament; they’ve won two of their three previous knockout games at the tournament with their only loss in that span coming by a margin of just two points against England (20-18 in 2017)
Samoa have won their last two men’s Tests, scoring 60+ points in each; they had not previously scored 60 points in a game since a 60-0 win over the Cook Islands in 1994 and will be looking to win three straight Tests for the first time since 2007-08.
Players to watch
- Daniel Tupou (Tonga) has crossed for five tries in his last two Tests for Tonga; he scored one of the team’s seven tries when they last faced Samoa in a men’s Test (won 38-22).
- Joseph Suaali’i (Samoa) has run for 332 kick return metres at the 2021 men’s Rugby League
World Cup, 155 metres more than next-best Brian To’o (177) and at least twice as many as any other player from outside the Samoa squad.
The Rugby League World Cup promises to be the biggest, best and most inclusive event in the sport’s 127-year history with men’s, women’s and wheelchair teams competing in 61 games across 21 venues throughout England. Tickets are available via rlwc2021.com/tickets