Patrick McKendry is a rugby writer for the Herald.

Global Tens sure to be great showcase for the Samoans

Manu Samoa performs the Siva Tau prior to the International Test match between Samoa and the All Blacks. Photo / Getty Images
Manu Samoa performs the Siva Tau prior to the International Test match between Samoa and the All Blacks. Photo / Getty Images

There will likely be many winners from the Brisbane Global Tens when it kicks off for the first time at Suncorp Stadium in February.

Brisbane's hospitality industry will be quietly rubbing its collective hands together, and organisers Duco Events are likely to do fairly well out of it too. All of the clubs and players involved will be well rewarded for turning up; the winners more so.

But as for those players and team officials lucky enough to be invited, few will be as pleased as Manu Samoa coach Alama Ieremia and the squad of 18 players he selects. After years of being ignored by Sanzaar, who refuse to invite them into the Super Rugby club or Rugby Championship, it has taken an events company to recognise the marketability and potential of a rugby team from the Pacific Islands.

In terms of real opportunities to showcase the talent and potential in the Islands, you can forget the Chiefs' match against the Crusaders in Fiji this season.

That is simply a money-making exercise for the two New Zealand franchises under-written by a government which relies on tourism but also foreign aid to fill its coffers.

Last year's test in Apia between the All Blacks and Manu Samoa, though surrounded by goodwill and enthusiasm, is unlikely to be repeated in the near future.

No, this a genuine opportunity for Samoan rugby, and by extension the game in the Pacific, to get real traction and maybe further invitations to rugby's top table.

So it was that Ieremia, in Auckland for the launch of the tournament, sported a huge smile as he spoke about what he described as the privilege he and his national team had been accorded.

"To be invited to a pinnacle event like this showcases where things are at for us," he said. "We're very humbled to be invited to an international event of this calibre. It brings a lot of excitement to me and to the players and the country."

Asked what sort of squad he could select given his best players are scattered around world - and mainly in Europe - he said: "We'll have immediate conversations with the clubs and obviously World Rugby around regulations and releases because the players are already asking about it, they're already putting their hands up. We'll definitely be bringing the best team we can to the event, plus a whole lot of excitement from the Pacific. I am very excited because of that," he said of the game of two 10-minute halves suited his players.

"We'll bring a bit of flavour to it, but the main goal for me is to really try to win it. The financial benefits and what comes with it are well stated," he said.

Given what it's taken to get to this point, Manu Samoa should be everyone's second favourite team in early February next year, if not their first.

- NZ Herald

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Patrick McKendry is a rugby writer for the Herald.

Rugby writer Patrick McKendry began his journalism career 20 years ago and has worked in newspapers in New Zealand and the United Kingdom. He worked in a communications role on his return here before joining APN before the 2011 World Cup.

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