Cup dark horses Samoa also role models - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Cup dark horses Samoa also role models

By Laine Clark 28/10/2008 09:12:45 PM Comments (0)

They are not your run-of-the-mill role models.

Several members of the Samoan team named to take on fierce rivals Tonga in their World Cup clash at Penrith on Friday night have been known to make headlines for the wrong reasons.

But Samoan captain Nigel Vagana, 32, says their Cup campaign will go a long way to securing the country's rugby league future.

The likes of Ben Roberts, David Faiumu and Terence Seuseu - named to take on a fired-up Tonga - have had their share of controversy of late.

Roberts is reportedly facing the sack for bringing his NRL club the Bulldogs into disrepute, Faiumu will appear in Rockhampton court next month on a grievous bodily harm charge and Seuseu was sacked by Newcastle after several alcohol-related incidents.

However, Vagana only sees positive signs for the game after the trio joined a swag of NRL and English Super League players to put their hand up for Samoa for the tournament.

Vagana has adopted an ambassador role for Samoa, already helping coax the country's Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi into introducing the sport into the national school curriculum.

League has only been played in rugby-mad Samoa since 1985 but already has a 12-team national competition.

Vagana believes a successful Samoan campaign would prove a catalyst for the sport in the country.

"We want them to be inspired about what we do at the World Cup," he said.

"I put my hand up a couple of years ago to try and help them out and try and do my bit for Samoan league.

"And recently we had a function over there with the Prime Minister and he said he would be introducing the sport in the school system.

"We want to give the players in Samoa an opportunity to become a professional athlete - this gives them a chance."

Vagana said players had jumped on board because of Samoan rugby league's sudden transformation.

"The reason we haven't played in the past is that Samoa haven't been set up professionally," he said.

"Once it was set up properly the boys made their decision. They have confidence in what we are doing."

Vagana said he aimed to maintain his Samoan ambassador role after his playing days.

He has come out of international retirement to breath new life into Samoan rugby league - and their rivalry with Tonga.

Vagana stoked the fire when he criticised Tonga's decision to fight for the reinstatement of NRL stars Fuifui Moimoi and Taniela Tuiaki at the NSW Supreme Court.

Suffice to say Vagana didn't take too much notice of Tonga's surprisingly tight 22-20 win over Ireland on Monday night.

"It was an interesting game, but we know the Tongans are going to be coming out firing - we have to make sure we are up for it," Vagana said.

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