Newcastle centre Joseph Leilua says Samoa must use last year’s impressive Four Nations campaign as their benchmark for Saturday’s Pacific Test against Tonga.
Leilua and his Samoan teammates were impressive against rugby league heavyweights Australia, New Zealand and England in last year’s end of season tournament.
Toa Samoa came within four minutes of beating eventual winners New Zealand and still had a chance to qualify for the final going into the final round of fixtures.
Leilua, who has been capped seven times by his country, says that tournament should be the marker for Samoa to build on in future appearances.
“I’d like to think so. Obviously we showed the rugby league world what we’re capable of doing,” Leilua told AAP.
“This match against Tonga will be a good game as well so we’ve just got to do the same thing we did in the Four Nations.
“We don’t have the same team, there’s a lot of injuries in our camp but we’ll deal with that and whoever puts on the jersey over the weekend they’ll do a good performance for us.”
Samoa head into this weekend’s clash with a strong squad full of experienced NRL stars, reflecting their relative strength among the Pacific nations.
Joining Leilua in the squad are Knights teammates Alapati Mata’utia and Carlos Tuimavave while coach Matt Parish also has Leeson Ah Mau, Sam Kasiano, Dunamis Lui, Frank Pritchard, Tim Simona and Daniel Vidot among his options.
Leilua said the Pacific Test concept, which will feature the Tonga v Samoa clash as well as a match between Fiji and Papua New Guinea in a double-header at CBUS Super Stadium, is one he’d like to see made a permanent fixture on rugby league’s calendar.
“I reckon it should be every year with the Aussie and New Zealand Test,” he said.
“There should also be a Test for each team that’s playing here. That’d be good.”