Toa Samoa winger David Nofoaluma scored four tries as the Pacific nation delivered a warning for England ahead of the opening World Cup game with a 42-12 defeat of Cook Islands in Saturday’s Pacific Test at Campbelltown Sports Stadium.
With props Martin Taupau and Bunty Afoa being the only survivors from Samoa’s last Test in 2019, Matt Parish fielded a new look team and with a number of State of Origin stars expected to pledge their allegiance to the blue jersey they have the potential to emulate Tonga’s success at the 2017 World Cup.
Josh Schuster was in tears during the anthem in a sign of what the return of international rugby league means to the players and he laid on three tries for Nofoaluma and fellow winger Taylan May, who finished the match with two tries as Samoa’s outside backs ran riot.
After conceding four tries in the opening 21 minutes, the Cook Islands rallied and were able to keep Samoa at bay until midway through the second half in a brave effort from the World Cup’s smallest nation, which has a population of less than 20,000.
Prop Davvy Moale and his former South Sydney team-mate Steven Marsters, the cousin of co-captain Esan Marsters, scored second half tries before Samoa finished as they began with four late tries, including long range intercept efforts by Nofoaluma and Jaxson Paulo.
Nofoaluma’s fourth try featured some outstanding lead up play by Schuster, who ran across field before finding a gap in the defence and bursting into the clear. Ignoring Su’A in support on the inside, he kicked ahead for Nofoaluma to win the race for the ball and score.
Taupau led the way for the forwards, carrying the ball 192 metres from 18 carries, while Molo had 13 runs for 149 metres. Staines (210m), Tago (218m) and Nofoaluma (216m) all ran more than 200 metres with the ball.
Samoa meet England at St James Park in the opening match of the World Cup on October 15 and the Penrith Panthers quartet of May, Charlie Staines, Izack Tago and Spencer Leniu may be joined in the squad by star team-mates Jarome Luai, Brian To’o and Stephen Crichton.
Murray Taulagi, Junior Paulo and Jeremiah Nanai are other Origin stars who may join the Samoa campaign for the World Cup.