2014 Four Nations England vs Samoa


By John Davidson, Date: 22/10/14

England will face a tough test against an under-fire Samoa in the opening match of the 2014 Four Nations at Suncorp Stadium.

The northern hemisphere nation will meet a Samoan side in Brisbane that is still reeling from a nightclub incident several days ago. Several Samoan players were involved in a brawl outside a Queensland bar in the early hours of Sunday morning.

North Queensland centre Tautau Mogu was arrested and will miss the match with England, along with Bulldogs forward Reni Maitua and Wests Tigers backrower Sauaso Sue. The trio could face further sanctions from the NRL.

It’s an undoubted blow to the preparations for Toa Samoa who will be looking to upset England in the tournament’s opener.

The Poms and Samoans will meet at Suncorp straight before Australia takes on New Zealand as part of a double-header.

England will be keen to amend their heart-breaking semi-final loss against the Kiwis at the 2013 World Cup at Wembley, which was their last outing. Coach Steve McNamara has shown respect and picked a strong squad to face the Pacific Island nation. He will be wary of a fast start from the Samoans.

Matty Smith will partner Gareth Widdop in the halves, with Rangi Chase left at home, and the England 17 includes three players from the NRL grand final in James Graham and South Sydney brothers Tom and George Burgess. Sam Burgess may be missing but there is plenty of firepower in England’s forward pack with Wigan pair Liam Farrell and Joel Tomkins, Warrington’s Chris Hill and Huddersfield’s Brett Ferres.

Several players will be making their debut for England including lock Joe Westerman, Smith, Josh Hodgson and Darryl Clark. Canberra Raiders-bound Hodgson gets the nod to start at hooker, over Clark, but the exciting 2014 Man of Steel winner is sure to some game-time off the bench.

The only key figure missing for England is new skipper Sean O’Loughlin, who has succumbed to a thigh strain. Graham will captain the English for the first time in his stead.

Toa Samoa pulled off a surprise when they defeated Fiji in the Pacific International earlier this year to book their place at this year’s Four Nations. It was a reverse of last year’s World Cup quarter-final in Warrington, when the Fijians dispensed with the Samoans with ease.

Off-field dramas notwithstanding, Toa Samoa has a damaging team on paper. Broncos prop Josh McGuire gets the chance to make his debut, after missing out on Australian selection, while Tigers flyer Tim Simona is at fullback instead of on the wing.

Samoa’s pack is an intimidating one with the giants Mose Masoe and Frank Pritchard alongside Sam Tagataese and David Fa’alongo. Jesse Sene-Lefao also gets the opportunity to earn his first cap after an impressive season with Manly.

But a lot will depend on the partnership of Ben Roberts and Kyle Stanley. If they fire and their kicking game is sound, Toa Samoa has a real chance of knocking off England.

This bound to be a bruising encounter as a winning start to the Four Nations is vital if either team is to be a contender come November 15. Expect the big hits to keep coming and the tackles flying in this one.

England 2014 Rugby League Four Nations Line-up:

1. Sam Tomkins
2. Josh Charnley
3. Kallum Watkins
4. Michael Shenton
5. Ryan Hall
6. Gareth Widdop
7. Matty Smith
8. George Burgess
9. Josh Hodgson
10. James Graham (c)
11. Liam Farrell
12. Joel Tomkins
13. Joe Westerman

14. Darryl Clark
15. Brett Ferres
16. Tom Burgess
17. Chris Hill

Head coach: Steve McNamara

Samoa 2014 Rugby League Four Nations Line-up:

1 Tim Simona
2 Antonio Winterstein
3 Ricky Leutele
4 Joey Leilua
5 Daniel Vidot
6 Ben Roberts
7 Kyle Stanley
8 Sam Tagataese
9 Michael Sio
10 David Fa’alogo
11 Frank Pritchard
12 Leeson Ah Mau
13 Josh McGuire

14 Pita Godinet
15 Jesse Sene-Lefao
16 Isaac Liu
17 Mose Masoe
18 Dunamis Lui

Head coach: Matt Parish