Joseph Suaalii has become the latest NRL star to commit to England’s opening-game opponents Samoa.
Matt Parish is building a formidable squad for Samoa’s World Cup challenge and Sydney Roosters youngster Suaalii has provided a further boost by opting to join them.
The 19-year-old winger was a strong candidate to play for his native Australia after scoring 15 tries in 19 appearances this season, but he has instead chosen to represent his father’s Samoan heritage.
Suaalii told News Corp: “This is about more than football. This is about respecting my family and the sacrifices they have made for me throughout my career.
“My grandparents still live in Samoa and I am looking forward to honouring them and my parents by pulling on the Samoan jersey.
“One day, I hope to play for Australia. I truly believe Samoa can do great things at this World Cup and I can’t wait to be part of it.”
Players have until three weeks before the World Cup begins to choose which eligible nation they wish to represent.
Australia coach Mal Meninga has called for an overhaul of those rules.
“I’m not disappointed, but the fact is we need to have a look at how we clean it all up and the eligibility rules,” Meninga told Fox Sports.
“I’m happy for them. If they decide that they want to play for their ancestral nations that is good for me.
“I don’t want them going away in the green and gold and second guessing and doubting themselves whether they actually want to be here or be with another footy team.
“I don’t want anyone unsure about playing for Australia.”
The Kangaroos also suffered the blow of losing Payne Haas last week, with the Brisbane Broncos forward confirming he did not want to be considered.
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