SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - MAY 06: Anthony Milford of Samoa celebrates with team mates after scoring a try during the 2017 Pacific Test Invitational match between England and Samoa at Campbelltown Sports Stadium on May 6, 2017 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Brendon Thorne/Getty Images)

Samoa will enter the Rugby League World Cup as one of the nations who could well spring a surprise, with a squad filled to the brim with talent.

A number of players who could have found themselves in the Australian squad are instead set to represent Samoa, with Joseph Suaalii, Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow, Stephen Crichton, Brian To'o, Anthony Milford, Jarome Luai, Junior Paulo and Josh Papalii all having previously played State of Origin, with most of that group doing so this year.

Their forwards are full of depth, as is the backline, and while the old question around the spine of most Pacific Island sides will remain, they are going to give just about every other nation they encounter a fright.

Samoa have never been past the quarter-finals of the World Cup, but there is a very real chance they might be able to do something similar to rivals Tonga at the last World Cup in 2017.

Here are the 17 who will aim to bring Samoa their best ever Rugby League World Cup result.

Full squad

Josh Aloiai (Manly Sea Eagles), Fa'amanu Brown (Wests Tigers), Stephen Crichton (Penrith Panthers), Mathew Feagai (St George Illawarra Dragons), Chanel Harris-Tavita (New Zealand Warriors), Braden Hamlin-Uele (Cronulla Sharks), Royce Hunt (Cronulla Sharks), Oregon Kaufusi (Parramatta Eels), Luciano Leilua (Wests Tigers), Spencer Leniu (Penrith Panthers), Danny Levi (Huddersfield Giants), Jarome Luai (Penrith Panthers), Taylan May (Penrith Panthers), Tyrone May (Catalan Dragons), Anthony Milford (Newcastle Knights), Josh Papalii (Canberra Raiders), Junior Paulo (Parramatta Eels), Jaydn Su'A (St George Illawarra Dragons), Joseph Suaalii (Sydney Roosters), Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow (North Queensland Cowboys), Izack Tago (Penrith Panthers), Martin Taupau (Manly Sea Eagles), Brian To'o (Penrith Panthers), Kelma Tuilagi (Wests Tigers)

*Luciano Leilua was subject to the NRL's no-fault stand-down rule on Thursday and is no longer considered for the best 17.

Other nations best 17
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Who plays fullback is likely one of the biggest questions surrounding the make-up of Samoa's squad.

Joseph Suaalii, who was reportedly set to be picked in Australia's squad, found himself as a late addition to the Samoan squad pon the premise that was set to play fullback.

That is no guarantee with Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow in the squad, but it seems Matt Parish may lean that way.

Jarome Luai is a certain starter in the halves, and will likely have to play the role of halfback, although captain Anthony Milford could yet shift across and play in the seven. The other option is Chanel Harris-Tavita, however, with Milford one of the most experienced players in the squad and the captain, it's unlikely he or Luai are going to be not in the starting 13.

The hooker will undoubtedly be Danny Levi, who has shown good form in the English Super League this season and will bring plenty of pace and explosiveness to the side on the back of a forward pack who could dominate plenty of their opposition.


The backline is going to see one excellent option miss out. With one of Suaalii or Tabuai-Fidow queuing up for one of the four spots alongside Taylan May, Izack Tago, Stephen Crichton and Brian To'o, there are too many players for the spots available.

St George Illawarra Dragons back Mathew Feagai is also in the squad for the tournament, but unlikely to feature in the biggest games, such as the tournament opener against England when Samoa will look to be at full strength and put themselves in pole position to finish top of Group A.

Of the five who will fight for a spot, To'o and Crichton are guaranteed starters, as is either Suaalii or Tabuai-Fidow, pending on who doesn't play fullback.

That leaves Izack Tago and Taylan May. Should Samoa play Tago, then the player who misses fullback will line up on the wing, while May playing would see the other player shift into the centres.

It's a delicate balancing act, and Matt Parish will tinker with his side during the group stage to have a best 17 in mind by the time the knockouts commence.


The forward pack Samoa will be able to roll out is absolutely scary beyond belief. Origin stars Junior Paulo and Josh Papalii headline the front row, backed up by Martin Taupau, Spencer Leniu, Royce Hunt, Braden Hamlin-Uele and Oregon Kaufusi, all high standard players who provide the Samoan charge plenty of size.

Josh Aloiai is another name in that list, although will likely line up in the 13 jumper after playing the role for Manly at times this season and also improving both his ball playing and footwork abilities.

Paulo and Papalii are undoubtedly the two starts, with the remainder fighting for bench spots.

Queensland Maroons Training Session

On the edges, North Queensland Cowboys' mid-season recruit Luciano Leilua was due to line up alongside St George Illawarra Dragons star Jaydn Su'A, however, the no fault stand down rule currently has his participation in the tournament up in the air, so Kelma Tuilagi takes his place.


Samoa will pack one of the most powerful benches at the tournament, and unless Kelma Tuilagi snags a spot - which seems unlikely - they will be set to run with three middle forwards and a utility.

The utility is down to a battle between Fa'amanu Brown, Tyrone May and Chanel Harris-Tavita, however, the ability to play hooker of Brown, as well as in the halves which then provides coverage across the backline, should see him win the spot.

His form after sneaking into the Tigers' side at the back end of the season was also outstanding.

The middle forward brigade off the bench will be led by Martin Taupau, with the Manly enforcer turning out for Samoa in the mid-year Test.

He will be backed up by two younger players, with Royce Hunt likely to win a spot after his excellent and constantly improving season for the Sharks, while the other spot goes to Spencer Leniu, who just edges out Oregon Kaufusi.

The best 17

1. Joseph Suaalii
2. Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow
3. Izack Tago
4. Stephen Crichton
5. Brian To'o
6. Anthony Milford
7. Jarome Luai
8. Junior Paulo
9. Danny Levi
10. Josh Papalii
11. Kelma Tuilagi
12. Jaydn Su'A
13. Josh Aloiai
14. Fa'amanu Brown
15. Martin Taupau
16. Spencer Leniu
17. Royce Hunt

Key information

Group: A
Coach: Matt Parish
Captain: Anthony Milford
Number of World Cups: 5
Best World Cup performance: Quarter-finals 92000, 2013, 2017)


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