Here we are again, that time for another editorial. I’ll be changing it up a bit this time. Whilst it will still be 17 players as usual, I’ll be putting forth the unique teams I’ve been devising over the last few months, starting with Samoa and then going from there.
The players you see in this Samoan side and in future sides, were selected based on the criteria I used to devise them. The criteria is (this made it even harder and more challenging to find players to form a side using this criteria): All players selected for these teams (at least the national teams), must have played in more games for an Island nation than a main nation like Australia or New Zealand or the same amount for a respective Island nation. Alternatively, they can be eligible for an Island nation but are yet to represent that nation at the international level. All players selected MUST have played in or are currently playing in the NRL, NYC, NSW Cup or QLD Cup, and can be playing in the SuperLeague and other English/European competitions, but must currently be playing in a competition (anywhere around the world, rugby league of course) of some sort.
So, using that criteria and without further adieu, here is that side:
1. Quentin Togaga’e – Not the most famous name by any means nor one that a lot of people will know, but he is a talented player and a utility player at that, currently playing for English rugby league side, the Sheffield Eagles. A former Souths Logan player, Togaga’e has a knack for finding the line and sniffing out a try when required, having crossed an incredible 35 times for the Eagles in 2012. As a result, he was named at fullback in the Championship Team of the Year.
2. Willie Isa – If you’re a Melbourne Storm fan in particular, you might remember Willie Isa (though he did play 1 game for the Penrith Panthers, his NRL debut). Playing in just 6 NRL games before he moved to England, he was at one stage compared to Israel Folau with his speed, poise, skill, strength and a junior Origin berth. Still a young player, with an eventual return to the NRL possibly on the cards, Isa’s time in the Super League has served him well, as he currently bides his time at the Widnes Vikings.
3. Tim Simona – Wests Tigers fans will know Simona well, with the youngster given the opportunity to impress this year due to some injuries at the club. Seen as a talented back-line player who can cover fullback, centre and wing, Simona is highly rated by those at the club and by Tigers fans, having made his NRL debut back in 2011 in what was described as an impressive debut. Still young, Simona will only get better as he grows and matures into a fine NRL player for the Tigers in the years to come.
4. Constantine Mika – A true utility player that can offer value across the park at centre, back-row, lock and five-eighth, Mika is a player that isn’t afraid to shy away in defence and known for putting on the big, big hits, whilst also possessing great ball skills for a big man, evidenced by his ability to play five-eighth. Currently in England at Hull KR, Mika is having a similar impact over there as he did in Australia, in the games that he has played for the club.
5. Tim Lafai (GK) – A truly talented young player. Forced to bide his time for a while given the presence of more experienced players in the Bulldogs back-line, it was only this season that Lafai was awarded his chance and excelled in attack. A very versatile player with a smart footy brain, Lafai is the sort of player all sides need in their depth, able to come in when required and play their heart out, earning them a reputation as a player that all fans like and enjoy watching.
6. Peter Mata’utia – An exceptionally versatile player, Mata’utia is a player that can just about fill any position in the back-line. Possessing great ball skills, great hands and a great awareness of rugby league, Mata’utia is currently in some great form for the Newcastle Knights NSW Cup side. Yet to experience first-grade at a consistent level (his time will eventually come), Mata’utia is a confidence player and will go from strength to strength as the season wears on, vying for a potential first-grade spot. He’s played rep footy for Samoa and is bound to play a lot more.
7. Pita Godinet – Another very versatile player in any side, Godinet is a player that has proved his worth in the NRL by mostly coming off the bench and offering a great deal of impact, often turning a game in the New Zealand Warriors favour. Able to cover hooker, fullback, five-eighth and half, Godinet has covered those positions throughout his career mostly playing at five-eighth and hooker, though ask a lot of Warriors fans and they will tell you that they believe he should be starting.
8. Mose Masoe – Forcing his way into the Penrith side, Masoe is an aggressive competitor when it comes to rugby league. Possessing some great footwork for a big man, a hard-running style and a no-nonsense approach, Masoe is the sort of prop that will put in the hard yards when required and the sort of prop that will play his heart out week in week out. Whilst inconsistency can creep into his game given he was dropped earlier in his career at the Roosters, Masoe has worked hard on his game to rectify that.
9. Masada Iosefa – In and out of first-grade sides for a while now, Iosefa has often been a player that fills in when required due to injuries or Origin. Another player sometimes criticised for his approach to playing and his play on the field, Iosefa is capable of some moments of magic though with a hooker like Robbie Farah in front of him, opportunities are few and far between for his first-grade career, though with the right side, anything is possible.
10. Josh McGuire – Known for his heavily aggressive approach in rugby league, even as recently as last week when he was involved in an incident on-field that saw him punch Mitchell Allgood – Josh McGuire can be somewhat of a hot-head when it comes to playing, though he has the talent to push for future representative spots. Eligible for Samoa but at times coming into consideration for Queensland, McGuire is a talented prop that has had quite consistent passages for the Broncos. He is a player that can and will only get better, both at club level and international level.
11. Eddy Pettybourne – A bull-dozing forward who runs hard, hits hard and all with speed, Eddy Pettybourne is a player that has come a long way. At times inconsistent and in the bad books of fans, Pettybourne has cemented his spot in the Tigers line-up, making the most of the opportunity after some injuries to their side. Playing in his 100th game this week, the Tigers back-rower offers great go forward when either starting or coming off the bench and is becoming a key player in the Tigers side.
12. Harrison Hansen (C) – Sporting a unique background with a mix of three different nationalities, Hansen is a player that has played his entire career to date with the Wigan Warriors and has long been held in high regard by all the coaches of Wigan, since his debut in 2004. Blistering in attack on the fringes, Harrison has proven he can go toe-to-toe with the best tacklers in the Super League, having recorded 825 tackles in 2008, the highest in that year. at just 27, he’s already a veteran in the Wigan side given his early start at just 18/19.
13. Frankie Winterstein – If you’re a Bulldogs fan and cast your eye back to 2008, you might remember a player by the name of Frankie Winterstein, currently at Widnes and excelling. With his future in doubt at the club a while back, some fantastic performances in attack saw the former NRL player rewarded with a new contract. When under the pump, Winterstein has the proven ability to perform as he fast becomes an important piece of the Widnes back-row.
14. Mark Taufua – He might be in and out of the Cronulla Sharks side this season but don’t sell Mark Taufua short just yet, with the former Newcastle Knight a handy player to have in your depth stocks for both offensive and defensive purposes. It was back in 2008 when he was labelled as the “Samoan Stealth Bomber” for his “teeth-rattling tackles and bone-jarring charges.” Not one to shy away from contact, Taufua plays the game in a hard but fair manner, knowing full well that when he plays, he has a job to do.
15. Sam Tagataese – Another player that is in and out of the Cronulla Sharks side, though Sam Tagataese is a player that when he’s in your side, he has the ability to make something happen. He’s moved around a bit having played for three clubs in his NRL career so far, but that doesn’t take away from his on-field ability and talent to play footy. Tagataese becomes somewhat of a cult figure wherever he goes, for his hard-hitting and often abrasive defensive style.
16. Taulima Tautai – Not the flashiest player and often criticised for his poor ball handling, Tautai hails from the well-regarded sporting school of St Gregory’s College. Starting out as a winger, Tautai has since become a utility of sorts, now able to cover wing, centre, prop, back-row and lock, with his move to prop coinciding with his move to the Cronulla Sharks earlier in his career. It was back in 2008 when Tautai won the Eels Rookie of the Year Award, with a move to England now on the cards.
17. Lagi Setu – If you’ve heard of Lagi Setu, you will have known that 2013 is his first season back in the NRL since completing his 2-year Mormon mission after previous stints with the St George Illawarra Dragons and Brisbane Broncos. Hailing from New Zealand but playing his junior footy in Ipswich, Setu has featured prominently for the Storm this year, mainly from the bench. Providing impact off the bench with his size and aggression, Setu is the perfect forward for the Storm, one that can be molded into the a top-notch interchange player.
Coach: John Ackland