Go Toa Samoa and Joseph Parker!

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Mata'afa Keni Lesa

It’s an exciting weekend for Samoan sports. 

And most sports fanatics can hardly wait until tonight.

First we’ve got the Toa Samoa taking on England in Sydney and then of course the much-talked about Lupesoliai Laauli Joseph Parker’s first title defense in Auckland. 

The good news is that for us in Samoa, both events will be live on local television so it’s going to be one of them nights to enjoy the best seat in the house and cheer for our men in action. 

Come to think of it, this is one of the privileges many people in Samoa take for granted, it is being able to watch these events live without having to pay a single sene for it. Elsewhere, people are having to spend major dollars just so they can catch the action. 

Now speaking of action, there is no doubt we are in for a real treat with the rugby league test and a championship fight.

Looking at the Toa Samoa, coach Matt Parish has named one his strongest teams ever – with Antonio Winterstein being named as captain. The return of livewire Anthony Milford is an exciting proposition and will no doubt pose a massive threat for the English team at Campbelltown Sports Stadium.

While Samoa is regarded as a second tier team, there is no reason to take that view considering the quality of players on display. It’s perhaps one of the best things about rugby league, the fact all these top players who are not wanted by tier one nations can still represent another country. 

Imagine if rugby union were to allow the same. What would that do to our national team’s sagging fortunes? 

Now look at the Toa Samoa squad for tonight. Of the 18 players, 16 of them play N.R.L in Australia with two playing in New Zealand. It is a fully professional outfit and that is why it is always a pleasure to watch this Toa Samoa. They are more than a threat to England.

And Wayne Bennett knows that.

“Samoa are a very good team — there’s a lot of top NRL players in their squad,” said Bennett.

“It’s not going to be easy for us; we weren’t looking for an easy game but we need to prove ourselves on Saturday. I’m really looking forward to it and I’m sure they are too because I know they’ve got a hard game in front of them.”

A hard game should be a great game. And judging from the last time the two teams play, Samoa nearly pulled off one of the biggest upsets when they ran England pretty close. 

Can they do the same thing tonight and maybe get over the hurdle and win? Only time will tell.

Another mouthwatering prospect to look forward to is Lupesoliai Joseph Parker’s first title defense. Originally scheduled to fight Hughie Fury, Parker will fight Cojanu in Manukau in what is likely to be his last fight in New Zealand for a while.

When it comes to boxing, we can never underestimate anyone. And while most pundits are predicting an easy win for Lupesoliai, that can never be guaranteed. We are talking about a sport where fortunes can change in a matter of seconds. Cojanu has got nothing to lose and everything to gain. One lucky punch for him can change his destiny and that of Parker. Which is something we don’t want to see.

Since last week, there has been a lot of talk about Parker and Joshua. That’s expected of course. It’s the stuff that makes boxing exciting.

But Parker cannot think about Joshua yet. He has a formidable opponent in the form of Cojanu and he needs to nail him and do it convincingly first before he thinks about the next step. 

In other words, he needs to forget about all this hype and concentrate on what he has to do to keep his title. If he does that tonight, we will have plenty of time and space to write about the next challenge – which could possibly be Joshua. 

Here is wishing Toa Samoa and Lupesoliai Laauliolemalietoa Joseph Parker all the best for tonight. O outou mama na!

Have a great weekend Samoa, God bless!

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