Nanai-Williams in line for Samoan Test

Chiefs outside back Tim Nanai-Williams is one of two uncapped players included in the Samoan squad of 27 named ahead of the historic Test against the All Blacks in Apia next week.

Japan-bound Nanai-Williams and centre Faialaga Afamasaga – the only Samoan-based player in the squad – are the newcomers to a squad comprising mostly professionals based in Europe.

Captain and loose forward Ofisa Treviranus is one of 11 players with English club contracts while another eight are based in France.

Coach Stephen Betham will trim the squad to a matchday 23 two days out from Wednesday’s game at Apia Park, the first time the All Blacks have played a Test in the Pacific islands.

There is a surprise recall for Toulouse prop Census Johnston, the only member of the squad to have played 50 Tests.

Johnston had announced his international retirement in April but has seemingly changed his mind.

The only New Zealand-based player aside from Nanai-Williams is Auckland club halfback Pele Cowley, who is the squad’s youngest player at 22.

He is likely to be on the reserves bench behind former Crusaders No.9 Kahn Fotuali’i, one of several players to have forged Super Rugby careers in New Zealand.

Among the more experienced backs are five-eighth Tusi Pisi, centre Johnny Leota and powerhouse 34-year-old winger Alesana Tuilagi.

Five of the six front-row forwards play in France, including world class Stade Francais tighthead Zac Taulafo.

Locks Kane Thompson and Joe Tekori have been Test regulars since 2007 while two-Test former Highlanders flanker TJ Ioane is the relative newcomer in a hardened loose forward group.

A handful of injured players were unavailable, along with Hurricanes midfield back Rey Lee-Lo, who is involved in Saturday’s Super Rugby final.


Backs: Tim Nanai-Williams, Ahsee Tuala, Alofa Alofa, Ken Pisi, Alesana Tuilagi, Johnny Leota, Paul Perez, Faialaga Afamasaga, Tusi Pisi, Michael Stanley, Kahn Fotualii, Pele Cowley.

Forwards: Ofisa Treviranus (capt), Maurie Fa’asavalu, Jack Lam, TJ Ioane, Alafoti Faosiliva, Kane Thompson, Teofilo Paulo, Iosefa Tekori, Faatiga Lemalu, Viliamu Afatia, Census Johnston, Anthony Perenise, Sakaria Taulafo, Ole Avei, Ma’atulimanu Leiataua.

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