England and Sale Sharks centre Manu Tuilagi could fulfil a lifelong dream this Autumn by running out for a Samoa invitational team against the Barbarians.
In a statement last night, Samoa announced they have withdrawn from three November matches in Europe due to coronavirus travel problems, with their Sevens also pulling out of two Sevens World Series legs in Dubai in November and December.
However, they are committed to putting together a ‘Manu Samoa selection’ to face the famous invitational side at Twickenham on the 4th of December.
Reports suggest, as well as any Samoan players plying their trade in Europe, that anybody who would be eligible to represent the island nation will be approached for the game.
The England centre, who has five elder brothers who all played for Samoa, was named Manusamoa after the name of the Samoan national team and says he is still Samoan at heart..
Tuilagi has previously declared that he’d ‘love’ to play for Samoa, and is thought to be keen to take this rare opportunity to pull on the famous blue jersey.
Other Premiership stars, including Bristol Bears captain Steve Luatua (New Zealand) and Will Skelton (Australia) are also reporting being approached to appear in the fixture.
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England stars who want to swap nations for next World Cup
1. Mako Vunipola (Tonga)
- Current number of caps: 73
- Age at the start of RWC 2023: 32
- Did you know? In 2018, Vunipola and his partner welcomed a son, Jacob.
Born in Wellington, New Zealand, the loosehead-prop would be eligible to play for Tonga as he is the son of former Tonga captain Fe’ao Vunipola. He is also the nephew of two other former international players, Manu and ‘Elisi Vunipola who both represented Tonga in the 1990s.
The prop has said that he’d love to play for Tonga, but worries he’d be taking the spot of a younger player.
“Obviously I’d love to play for them, but it’s difficult because it would be unfair to those back on the island; to see myself as an old man coming in and taking that opportunity away from them.
‘It’s a catch-22 really. You’d like to see people not being tied down to one (country) and being able to represent those countries – and they’d be better for it – but you’d also like locals to have the opportunity to make a better life for themselves by playing for their country and on the back of that getting contracts overseas.”