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Samoa player Marion Seve.

Toa Samoa will have an eye on the future when they take on Fiji Bati on Saturday with coach Matt Parish already planning for the 2021 World Cup.

First-year NRL players Ronaldo Mulitalo, Brian To'o, Marion Seve and Tino Faasuamaleaui have all been named to start for Samoa at Eden Park.

With the exception of Seve, they will all be making their Test debut.

Parish said while there has been a focus on youth, the side still has a good balance thanks to international veterans including Martin Taupau, Joseph Leilua and Tim Lafai.

"We have certainly got some young players, with six guys [in the squad] putting on the blue jumper for the first time," Parish said.

Samoa v Fiji

"We are probably looking towards the 2021 World Cup when we select teams now, putting players in positions and keeping building towards that.

"We are really happy with the guys in the squad we have got at the moment.

"We have got a very good mix of young talent with some older guys that have played plenty of footy."

Samoa have created a unique situation by selecting Sharks speedster Mulitalo and Storm giant Faasuamaleaui, with both players having represented other nations within the past month.

Mulitalo played for the USA at World Cup 9s – having been eligible through his mother who was born in American Samoa – while Faasuamaleaui came off the bench for the Junior Kangaroos in their recent 62-4 victory over France.

Samoa celebrate at the World Cup 9s in 2019.
Samoa celebrate at the World Cup 9s in 2019. ©Grant Trouville/NRL Photos

Having already defeated Papua New Guinea in June, a victory over Fiji would see Samoa win Group B of the Oceania Cup and secure promotion to Group A for 2020 alongside New Zealand and Tonga.

Australia won't take part in the competition next year due to their planned tour of the UK.

"[Promotion] is obviously a very big [motivator] but tell me what Test match you don't want to win," Parish said.

"Any time the Pacific Islands go up against one another it's certainly war, and I am expecting no different tomorrow."

The match will also see childhood friends Joseph Leilua and Kevin Naiqama go head-to-head as the captains of Samoa and Fiji respectively.

While the pair have clashed at Test level before Naiqama said it will be a special experience to lead a team out next to Leilua.

"I am really good mates with BJ [Leilua]. We have lived together, played together at Newcastle when we were up there and grew up together and went to the same school," Naiqama said.

"It's pretty cool what football can do. We had a close relationship growing up ... but it's a great opportunity for both of us to claim victory for our nation.

"I am sure BJ is very proud and honoured to captain his side and so am I.

"But for 80 minutes I guess it is a bit personal. When Pacific Islands come up against each other it's always a physical match."

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National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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