8 Jun 2015

Sport: Retiring trio a blow to Manu Samoa

11:41 am on 8 June 2015

Manu Samoa head coach Stephen Betham says the retirement of three veteran forwards is a big blow to their Rugby World Cup preparations.

Hooker Ti'i Paulo has joined prop Census Johnston and lock Daniel Leo in retiring from international rugby.

It comes a month after Leo spoke out about Pacific Island players being pressured to declare themselves unavailable for internationals by their club teams or be asked to take a pay cut if they continue.

Manu Samoa front-rowers Ti'i Paulo and Census Johnston have retired from international rugby.

Manu Samoa front-rowers Ti'i Paulo and Census Johnston have retired from international rugby. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Stephen Betham admits it's a major setback but says they can't afford to dwell on what they can't change.

"No doubt that we've lost a chunk of experience. We salute those boys and we respect their calls. We know it's not an easy call but it presents an opportunity for someone else. It's just unfortunate that's the way professional rugby is at the moment but we can't afford to sit back and worry about it - we've got to build the next person and make sure that he's ready for the task".

Betham has named a revised 45 man squad, which will be trimmed to 26 a week out from the historic test against the All Blacks in Apia.

Manu Samoa head coach Stephen Betham.

Manu Samoa head coach Stephen Betham. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Albert Anae, Peter Saili, Sailosi Tagicakibau and Winston Stanley did not make the latest squad while Stephen Betham says a few other players were absent through injury.

"Paul Williams, Logovi'i Mulipola: those players are all under injury cloud, as well as we do have Piula Faasalele and Alapati Leiua who are out for the year - they've got serious injuries so they've been ruled out but Paul and Logovi'i are hopefully back for the World Cup, so we're not rushing them back. As for the other, it was a selection policy that was hard but, in saying that, we felt we've picked the best players to take on the All Blacks and obviously Pacific Nations Cup".

Hurricanes hooker Motu Matu'u has been included with an eye to the World Cup but will miss the New Zealand test and Pacific Nations Cup through injury.

Full Squad:

FORWARDS: Aniseko Sio, Anthony Perenise, Jake Grey, James Johnston, Sakaria Taulafo, Viliamu Afatia, Andrew Williams, Ma'atulimanu Leiatau, Wayne Ole Avei, Motu Matu'u, Teofilo Paulo, Maselino Paulino, Kane Thompson, Iosefa Tekori, Fa'atiga Lemalu, Alafoti Faosiliva, Faifili Levave, Francis Ieremia, Jack Lam, Maurie Fa'asavalu, Ofisa Treviranus, Oneone Fa'afou, Taiasina Tuifua, TJ Ioane and Vavae Tuilagi.

BACKS: Kahn Fotuali'i, Peleifofoga Cowley, Vavao Afemai, Michael Stanley, Patrick Fa'apale, Tusiata Pisi, Faialaga Afamasaga, Faleniu Iosi, George Pisi, Johnny Leota, Reynold Lee Lo, Ah See Tuala, Alesana Tuilagi, Alofa Alofa, David Lemi, Ken Pisi, Paul Perez, Sinoti Sinoti, Fa'atoina Autagavaia, Tim Nanai Williams.