Uncapped prop Michael Alaalatoa (pictured) will continue a proud family tradition when he represents Samoa at Rugby World Cup 2019.
Alaalatoa and scrum-half Scott Malolua have both been included in head coach Steve Jackson’s 31-man squad for Japan 2019 despite not yet making their test debuts.
The uncapped duo form part of an inexperienced Manu Samoa selection that includes only eight players with previous Rugby World Cup experience.
Crusaders prop Alaalatoa, who scored two tries as he made his non-test debut in Samoa’s win over the New Zealand Heartland XV on Saturday, should not be a stranger to international rugby however.
His brother Allan has been included in Australia’s squad for Japan 2019 while their father Vili represented Samoa at Rugby World Cup 1991 – playing in the famous 16-13 defeat of Wales in Cardiff.
That victory helped Samoa qualify for the quarter-finals at the first attempt, but having reached the last eight in South Africa four years later the Pacific Island nation has not successfully navigated the pool stage since 1999.
Coach Jackson hopes the inclusion of Alaalatoa can help give the 2019 squad the firepower they need to overcome Pool A rivals Ireland, Scotland, hosts Japan and Russia and end their 20-year wait.
"He's a quality footballer and that's the reason why we worked so hard to try and get him," Jackson said.
"He brings something different to the other players we've got in the team and the other props that we've got in the team, but I think we've got five good props that are going to Rugby World Cup.
"As you would have seen today our scrum's been good and everyone will have the same opportunity but he comes from a background being involved with the Crusaders – he knows what it's like to win – and the more that he's in the group the more he'll get comfortable and I'm pretty sure that we'll draw on a little bit of his intelligence around things that will do well for our team."
Captain Jack Lam is one of the eight players included in the squad that have previous Rugby World Cup experience, while veteran fly-half Tusi Pisi will head to a third tournament.
Pisi brings a wealth of experience to his country’s cause, having spent more than six years of his club career in Japan and featured at both New Zealand 2011 and England 2015.
Manu Samoa lost to both Japan and Scotland – by just three points – as they finished fourth in Pool B four years ago. That meant they had to qualify for this year’s tournament, which they did with a play-off win over Germany last July.
Samoa face Australia in their final warm-up match in Sydney next weekend, where the two Alaalatoa brothers could come face-to-face, and start their Rugby World Cup 2019 campaign against Russia on 24 September.
Samoa squad for Rugby World Cup 2019
Forwards: Afaesetiti Amosa, TJ Ioane, Jack Lam (captain), Piula Fa’asalele, Josh Tyrell, Chris Vui, Teofilo Paulo, Kane Leaupepe, Senio Toleafoa, Michael Alaalatoa, Paul Alo-Emile, James Lay, Jordan Lay, Logovi’i Mulipola, Motu Matu’u, Ray Niuia, Seilala Lam.
Backs: Ed Fidow, Tim Nanai-Williams, Ahsee Tuala, Belgium Tuatagaloa, Henry Taefu, Alapati Leiua, Reynold Lee-Lo, Kieron Fonotia, AJ Atatimu, Tusi Pisi, Ulupano Seuteni, Dwayne Polotaivao, Melani Matavao, Scott Malolua.