4 Apr 2013

Sport: Hard work paying off for Samoa Rugby League

11:32 am on 4 April 2013

Former rugby league international Nigel Vagana says Samoan officials have worked hard over the past few years to develop a professional environment worthy of attracting some of the game's top talents.

Samoa this week appointed Dragons NRL coach Steve Price as their man in charge for this year's World Cup in the Northern Hemisphere.

Manly centre Steve Matai has also committed to playing for Toa Samoa, after last turning out for New Zealand in 2010.

Vagana, who is Rugby League Samoa's Technical Director, says Matai actually wanted to play for Samoa a few years ago.

"We didn't feel that we provided a professional enough organisation to be able to get these guys across so we sort of actually turned them away, and I didn't feel comfortable bringing them into an environment that I wouldn't put myself in as a player. I just wanted to make sure that we set it up as professional as possible and obviously I've spent a lot of time with the Kiwis, and learnt a lot off the Kiwis, and I'm just trying to give the guys another opportunity to represent each nation."

Roy Asotasi and Jeff Lima are among the other high-profile names to commit to Samoa and Nigel Vagana says talks with other players are ongoing.

Samoa play Tonga in a one-off test in Sydney in a fortnight.