Samoan star in black and white

In seven months Ligi Sao could be lining up for Samoa as they take the field against England in Newcastle for the opening game of the 2021 World Cup.

But the Kiwi-born prop is not counting his chickens just yet and knows if he doesn’t perform for Hull FC first, then the World Cup will remain just a pipedream.

Sao is getting ready for his second season with the Airlie after joining the club from New Zealand Warriors at the end of 2019.

And now the 28-year-old is enjoying the change of pace at Hull FC under new coach Brett Hodgson.

“It’s been refreshing,” he says.

“Obviously it was my first season last year and I had three different coaches in one year. But it’s been good so far and it’s been an enjoyable vibe. Brett’s brought everyone together and all the boys have bought into what he’s brought across. I’m enjoying it.

“I guess every team says they’re working hard at this time of the year, but for us it’s been enjoyable. The boys are excited to get back playing.”

Hull finished fifth last year, after an up and down campaign, and were knocked out in the second round of the semi-finals by Grand Finalists Wigan.

But now Sao says the club has to improve in 2021.

“The main goal for us is consistency throughout the year,” the former Manly and Warriors forward said.

“Now that there are no distractions, it just feels like it’s a new year for us under a new coach, that’s how I’d put it.”

The frontrower’s two-year deal at the KCOM Stadium finishes at the end of this year and Sao has yet to make a decision on his future.

“I guess everything depends on the season,” Sao admits.

“I’ll just wait to kick off this new season and go from there. Besides Covid and what went on last year, I enjoyed the style of footy that we played here.”

There is also the carrot of playing of Samoa in the World Cup at the end of this year.

Sao made his Test debut for the Pacific nation in 2018 and played three matches at the World Cup 9s in 2019.

He would love to represent Toa Samoa again, and face England at St James’ Park, but he knows there are no guarantees.

“Yep, that’s the pinnacle, representing your country,” says Sao.

“If it comes… my full focus is on Hull FC this year and whatever comes at the end is a bonus. I’ll put my best forward if I’m selected. But my full focus is on Hull FC.

“Hopefully by that time of the year the restrictions will be out of the way and we get the crowds back in. The World Cup is an exciting tournament at the end of the year and it will be good for the game in England and for Super League.”

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