August 13, 2021
The Manu Samoa XVs team is backing up plans for the British and Irish Lions tour to Australia in 2025.
Samoa head coach Seilala Mapusua wants to ensure his country is included in the proposed schedule after Rugby Australia chairman Hamish McLennan failed to mention them when putting forward the idea of Pacific Islands fixtures.
McLennan only named Fiji and Tonga despite Samoa qualifying for the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France by defeating Tonga in two matches.
Only Fiji have previously been allowed to face the Lions and in August 1977 they won a famous 25–21 victory as the touring team stopped off on their way back home from a series loss in New Zealand.
Mapusua believes including the Pacific Islands nations would be a significant moment for rugby.
“It would be awesome to have the Lions play in Samoa and you could make the tour to Australia six tests, not just three against the Wallabies. I think that could be of real interest to the Lions because it would give them high quality matches before the test series and they would be battle hardened," he told Rugbypass.
“One of the luxuries that the Lions have over other international teams is that time together and the more test matches you play the tighter you become and playing Samoa, Tonga and Fiji would be ideal.”
“It is encouraging that we are being mentioned in these kinds of plans but I would be more encouraged if we were having conversations with other Unions rather than just mentions when ideas are put forward. As the Pacific Islands rugby nations we get mentioned quite a bit but it still remains to be seen if that leads to us actually being included.”
Samoa is preparing for November tests in Europe against Georgia, Romania and possibly Spain while there is a match against the Barbarians at Twickenham on November27 although that is outside the international release window.
With COVID-19 travel restrictions in the Southern Hemisphere likely to still be a factor, Mapusua will base his squad around those Samoan players already operating in Europe including Chris Vui and Alapati Leiua at Bristol and Logo Mulipola at Newcastle who were not involved in the Rugby World Cup qualifiers.
By Romeka Romena