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Isaako switches as Samoa, PNG, Lebanon, Fiji load up with NRL talent

Brisbane winger Jamayne Isaako has become the second member of last year’s New Zealand team to pledge his allegiance to Samoa and will line up alongside Martin Taupau in Saturday night’s Oceania Cup clash with Papua New Guinea at Leichhardt Oval.

Isaako, who was the 2018 NRL rookie of the year, made his international debut for the Kiwis 12 months ago in Denver and played in the third Test of the end-of-season series against England.

Like Taupau, Isaako was in an extended New Zealand squad named on Thursday night but he will now join Broncos teammates Anthony Milford and Jayden Su’A in a strong Toa Samoa team to face the Kumuls.

Samoa are hoping Taupau's decision to choose the Pacific nation over New Zealand and Isaako’s decision to make himself available for selection will have a similar impact to the defection of Jason Taumalolo and Andrew Fiftia to Tonga during the World Cup.

The team also includes Newcastle forward Herman Ese’ese, who was a member of the New Zealand squad for the Denver Test and is one of four Knights players selected by coach Matt Parish to face PNG, along with halfback Mason Lino, prop James Gavet and centre Hymel Hunt.

Lebanon hooker Robbie Farah.
Lebanon hooker Robbie Farah. ©NRL Photos

PNG coach Michael Marum has also named an impressive squad for the Pacific Test, which will double as an opening round fixture in the newly created Oceania Cup, which also includes next Saturday’s New Zealand-Tonga Test at Mt Smart Stadium.

The Kumuls squad features Brisbane hooker James Segeyaro, Canterbury second-rower Rhyse Martin, Roosters halfback Lachlan Lam, North Queensland pair Kurt Baptiste and Kyle Laybutt and Melbourne centre Justin Olam.

Marum has also selected Broncos rookie Xavier Coates who was man-of-the-match in the Under 18s State of Origin.

Fiji will play Lebanon in an earlier match at Leichhardt Oval on Saturday, with Bati coach Brandon Costin naming a side brimming with NRL talent headed by Penrith second-rower Viliame Kikau, Melbourne winger Suliasi Vunivalu and St George Illawarra forward Korbin Sims.

Dragons winger Mikaele Ravalawa, Parramatta’s Maika Sivo, Bulldogs centre Marcelo Montoya and Cronulla second-rower Jayson Bukuya are also in the Bati squad to meet Lebanon.

Cedars coach Rick Stone has called on Wests Tigers hooker Robbie Farah, Parramatta prop Tim Mannah, Penrith winger Josh Mansour, Manly’s Abbas Miski and Canterbury hooker Michael Lichaa.

Parramatta halfback Mitchel Moses, Tigers prop Alex Twal and South Sydney five-eighth Adam Doueihi are notable absentees from the Lebanon team which qualified for the quarter-finals at the 2017 World Cup to earn automatic entry to the 2021 tournament.

The Oceania Cup will continue at the end of the season, with Australia to play New Zealand in Wollongong on October 25 and Tonga in Auckland on November 2.

The three nations are in Pool A of the tournament, while Fiji, PNG and Fiji are in Pool B.

Samoa will also play Fiji on November 2 as part of a triple header at Eden Park headlined by the Kiwis Test against Wayne Bennett’s Great Britain Lions. Fiji and PNG will meet in Christchurch on November 9 before the second Test between New Zealand and the Lions

Fiji squad

(in alphabetical order)

Marcelo Montoya (Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs)
Suliasi Vunivalu (Melbourne Storm)
Isaac Lumelume (Cronulla Sharks)
Mikaele Ravalawa (St George Illawarra Dragons)
Maika Sivo (Parramatta Eels)
Siti Moceidreke (Sunshine Coast Falcons)
Brandon Wakeham (Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs)
Tui Kamikamica (Melbourne Storm)
Joe Lovodua (St George Illawarra Dragons)
Junior Roqica (Central Newcastle Butcher Boys)
Viliame Kikau (Penrith Panthers)
Ta'ane Milne (Warriors)
Jayson Bukuya (Cronulla Sutherland Sharks)
D'Rhys Miller (Wentworthville Magpies)
Salesi Fainga (Parramatta Eels)
Korbin Sims (St George Illawarra Dragons)
Penioni Tagituimua (Nadera Panthers)
Ratu Nanovo (Penrith Panthers)

Lebanon squad

(in alphabetical order)

Jalal Bazzaz (St George Illawarra)
Toufic El Hajj (American University of Beirut)
Ahmad Ellaz (Cabramatta)
Elie El-Zakhem (Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs)
Robbie Farah (Wests Tigers) 
Amer Ghazzaoui (Sydney Roosters)
Kayne Kalache (Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs)
Nick Kassis (Wentworthville)
Jacob Kiraz (North Queensland Cowboys)
Anthony Layoun (Mounties)
Michael Lichaa (Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs)
Allan Lockwood (Burleigh Bears)
Bilal Maarbani (Wests Tigers)
Tim Mannah (Parramatta Eels)
Abbas Miskie (Manly Warringah Sea Eagles)
Reece Robinson (Queanbeyan)**
James Roumanos (Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs)
Ali Saad (North Sydney Bears)
Khaled Tamer

Lebanon winger Josh Mansour has been ruled out of this week's match by his Panthers club doctor.

** Subject to medical


Anthony Milford (c) (Brisbane Broncos)
Josh Aloiai (Wests Tigers)
Fa’amanu Brown (Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs)
Michael Chee Kam (Wests Tigers)
Herman Ese'ese (Newcastle Knights)
Raymond Faitala-Mariner (Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs)
James Gavet (Newcastle Knights)
Hymel Hunt (Newcastle Knights)
Jamayne Isaako (Brisbane Broncos)
Mason Lino (Newcastle Knights)
Jarome Luai (Penrith Panthers)
David Nofoaluma (Wests Tigers)
Junior Paulo (Parramatta Eels)
Marion Seve (Melbourne Storm)
Jaydn Su'A (Brisbane Broncos)
Jorge Taufua (Manly Warringah Sea Eagles)
Martin Taupau (Manly Warringah Sea Eagles)
Chanel Harris-Tavita (New Zealand Warriors)

Papua New Guinea

Edene Gabbie (Wynnum Manly)
Edwin Epape (Wynnum Manly)
Enock Maki (PNG Hunters)
James Segeyaro (Brisbane Broncos)
Junior Rau (PNG Hunters)
Justin Olam (Melbourne Storm)
Kurt Baptiste (North Queensland Cowboys)
Kyle Laybutt (North Queensland Cowboys)
Lachlan Lam (Sydney Roosters)
Luke Page (Burleigh Bears)
Moses Meninga (PNG Hunters)
Nixon Putt (Norths Devils)
Rhadley Brawa (Wynnum Manly)
Rhyse Martin (Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs)
Stanton Albert (PNG Hunters)
Terry Wapi (PNG Hunters)
Xavier Coates (Brisbane Broncos)
Zev John (Melbourne Storm)

Tickets are available for the Pacific Tests at Leichhardt Oval via Ticketek - Get yours now


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