Lemi to captain Samoa on European tour

England-based winger David Lemi will captain a Samoa rugby squad including six new caps on its three-match rugby tour to Britain and France next month.

Lemi, who plays for the Worcester Warriors, assumes the captaincy in the continued absence of hooker Mahonri Schwalger who led Samoa at last year’s World Cup.

Schwalger wrote a letter to Samoa’s Prime Minister expressing player concerns about the behavior of team officials during the Cup and has not been selected since.

The new caps in the 29-man squad named by coach Stephen Betham are Auckland Blues lock Filo Paulo, former New Zealand rugby league representative Setaimata Sa, Samoa sevens player Robert Lilomaiava, flanker Tivani Foma’i, France-based prop Viliamu Afatia and Auckland scrumhalf Auvasa Faleali’i.

Samoa will play Canada at Colwyn Bay, Wales on Nov. 9, Wales at Cardiff on Nov. 16 and France on Nov. 23.

Former Auckland Blues coach Pat Lam will travel with the Samoa team as a technical adviser. He said the tour was an opportunity for Samoa to improve its world ranking.

“There’s some quality players there,” Lam said. “Samoa sits 10th in the world rankings and, as everyone knows, when they do the World Cup draw and the seedings, that top eight is crucial in December. I think by calculations if we can win two of the three games, we’ve got a real chance of slipping into the top eight so it’s a big challenge.

“Certainly, Wales and France are the two form teams in the northern hemisphere at the moment but something that Samoa looks forward to.”

Samoa squad:

Sakaria Taulafo, Logovi’i Mulipola, Census Johnston, Viliamu Afatia, Ti’i Paulo, Ole Avei, Daniel Leo, Fa’atiga Lemalu, Joe Tekori, Filo Paulo, Taiasina Tuifu’a, Ofisa Treviranus, Maurie Fa’asavalu, Tivani Foma’I, Kane Thompson, Kahn Fotuali’i, Jeremy Su’a, Auvasa Faleali’i, Tusi Pisi, Ki Anufe, Setaimata Sa, Seilala Mapusua, Paul Williams, Robert Lilomaiava, David Lemi (captain), Reupenna Levasa, Paul Perez, Fa’atoina Autagavaia, Alesana Tuilagi, one to be added.

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