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Kahn Fotuali'i faces a hard decision - play international rugby for Samoa or persevere with his All Blacks' dream.

Fotuali'i could possibly be named as back-up halfback to Jimmy Cowan and Piri Weepu in the All Blacks' Tri Nations squad today after his strong Super 14 for the Crusaders.

He must weigh up whether he can be more than just a stopgap measure in the black jersey when he has almost been guaranteed a spot for Samoa at the World Cup.

At 28 Fotuali'i knows that by the 2015 World Cup he could be well past his best. The All Blacks selectors' history doesn't help.

The current trio has never refrained from picking players of Samoan heritage for short spells. Lelia Masaga, Sosene Anesi, John Schwalger, Casey Laulala and Kevin Senio each played two or one tests before being cut loose, meaning they were unable to represent Samoa under current International Rugby Board rules.

"The prospect of playing for Samoa appeals because I'm proud of my heritage," Fotuali'i says. "I would love to play for them at the World Cup but playing for the All Blacks has always been the ultimate goal.

"I've been talking to friends, family and my agent Kent Hale. I recently turned down a chance to play for Samoa at the Pacific Nations Cup."

His aim for now is to play well in the provincial championship for Hawke's Bay.

"If I don't make the All Blacks end-of-year tour, hopefully Samoa will pick me. It would give me the chance to establish myself in their environment and get combinations right for the World Cup."

If his All Blacks ambitions do not go as planned, Fotuali'i intends to head overseas next year. As a Samoan international Super 15 player based in New Zealand, he would be worse off. The NZRU offers such players nowhere near the same contract money as they do New Zealand-eligible players.

Former Super player Paul Williams has just declared his allegiance for Samoa despite being picked for the All Blacks training squad in 2008 and fighting for a spot on that end-of-year tour with Cory Jane.

He has signed for English club Sale after spending the last two seasons with the Blues. Williams heads off next month once his work permit is sorted. That enables him to benefit as a Samoan international representative who can still play for a Northern Hemisphere club.

At 27, Williams says he had to make a call: "It was the right time to take a chance to play internationals especially with my brother [Gavin] playing up here too. It'll be great to play alongside him.

"The lure of the World Cup in New Zealand has played a key part. It wasn't so much a case of recruitment but more me looking at my options and knowing I've got the ability to play at test level. I want to make the most of that chance so I made contact."

Williams has three test caps at the Pacific Nations Cup - against Tonga, Japan and Fiji.

He says the experience has already brought back some great memories, like in 1991 when his Dad - All Black great Bryan - coached Samoa to the World Cup quarter-finals after they beat Wales and Argentina in pool play.

Williams says Samoa is also on a rugby high at present as the world series sevens champions.

"The challenge is to maintain the momentum for the 15-a-side team. There will be no greater incentive than doing that in front of our massive fanbase in New Zealand."