Kiwis enforcer Martin Taupau has declared Samoa the enemy ahead of Saturday's Rugby League World Cup clash - but believes both teams deserve equal pay.

The Manly forward played one test for Samoa in 2013 and has plenty of sympathy for the plight of the second-tier nations and their financial struggles.

While New Zealand, Australia and England players are understood to be in line to earn up to $50,000 throughout the five-week tournament, players representing Pacific nations such as Samoa will subsist on minimal match payments and a $30 per diem.

Taupau is anticipating fireworks when the two sides meet at Mt Smart Stadium, but two days out from their campaign opener went in to bat for the opposition and their quest for financial parity.


"It's a very sensitive subject when we talk about the budgets and how much X amount the Pacific island teams get paid," said Taupau.

"It's out of our control. We're just players here and whatever we get paid we're not here to brag or anything.

"As Samoan players, we definitely want to support that and have equality throughout the whole league.

"It's obviously not going to happen overnight and will certainly take some time and it's all about growth and not only from the NRL but also with the Pacific nations.

"It will definitely take time but just at this moment we're more than focused on our campaign and being number one."

The 27-year-old won't be so charitable come game time, with coach David Kidwell naming him as a starting prop for the first time in his 17th test outing for the Kiwis.

Taupau hasn't forgotten his Samoan roots, but is ready to rip in and "terrorise" the opposition pack and help the Kiwis forwards dominate in the middle of the park.

"It is very important and it's always a privilege playing against Samoa, coming from Samoan heritage," he explained of the occasion.


"There's always a sense of respect but, in saying that, we're enemies, so I'm going to go out there with the other 16 players and we'll definitely be putting everything on the line.

"At the end of the day we're here to do a job and that's to be the most successful team in the campaign and come out on top."

Having led the Kiwis' second-wave of forward grunt off the bench in memorable victories over Australia in the 2014 Four Nations final and the 2015 Anzac test, Taupau says he's since grown accustomed to starting games for the Sea Eagles.

"I know what it's like to come off the bench and I've definitely adapted to that [starting].

"I've transitioned now into being a starting player at Manly and in the way that I can produce my best football.

"I'm not going to take any different approach. I just go about my business playing as hard and as fast as I can and leave everything out there on the field."

The match will provide our first glimpse of the revamped 'Kiwis style' of football that Kidwell has designed for his team, but Taupau says his role will remain fairly traditional.

"In simple terms, Kiwis football, being a front-rower, (means) we're absolutely terrorising the middle and laying the platform.

"(I'll) just do my job - run hard, tackle hard.

"There will definitely be some fireworks."

Rugby League World Cup captains (from left to right): Theo Fages (France), Frank Pritchard (Samoa), Liam Finn (Ireland), Cameron Smith (Australia), Craig Kopczak (Wales), Sean O'Loughlin (England), David Mead (Papua New Guinea), Robbie Farah (Lebanon), and Mark Minichiello (Italy).
Rugby League World Cup captains (from left to right): Theo Fages (France), Frank Pritchard (Samoa), Liam Finn (Ireland), Cameron Smith (Australia), Craig Kopczak (Wales), Sean O'Loughlin (England), David Mead (Papua New Guinea), Robbie Farah (Lebanon), and Mark Minichiello (Italy).

Week 1

Friday October 27Australia v EnglandMelbourne Rectangular Stadium, Melbourne, 10pm

Saturday October 28Papua New Guinea v WalesOil Search National Football Stadium, Port Moresby, 6pm

New Zealand v SamoaMt Smart Stadium, Auckland, 8.10pm

Fiji v USA Townsville Stadium, Townsville, 10.40pm

Sunday, October 29Ireland v ItalyBarlow Park, Cairns, 5pm

France v LebanonCanberra Stadium, Canberra, 8pm

Scotland v TongaBarlow Park, Cairns, 7.15pm

Week 2

Friday November 3Australia v FranceCanberra Stadium, Canberra, 10pm

Saturday November 4New Zealand v Scotland Christchurch Stadium, Christchurch, 5pm

Samoa v TongaWaikato Stadium, Hamilton, 7.30pm

England v LebanonSydney Football Stadium, Sydney, 10pm

Sunday November 5Papua New Guinea v IrelandOil Search National Football Stadium, Port Moresby, 7pm

Italy v USATownsville Stadium, Townsville, 7pm

Fiji v WalesTownsville Stadium, Townsville, 9.30pm

Week 3

Friday November 10Fiji v ItalyCanberra Stadium, Canberra, 9.40pm

Saturday November 11New Zealand v TongaWaikato Stadium, Hamilton, 5pm

Samoa v ScotlandBarlow Park, Cairns, 8pm

Australia v LebanonSydney Football Stadium, Sydney, 10pm

Sunday November 12Papua New Guinea v USAOil Search National Football Stadium, Port Moresby, 6pm

Wales v IrelandPerth Rectangular Stadium, Perth, 7.30pm

England v FrancePerth Rectangular Stadium, Perth, 10pm


Friday, November 17Quarterfinal OneDarwin Stadium, Darwin, 10pm

Saturday, November 18Quarterfinal TwoChristchurch Stadium, Christchurch, 5pm

Quarterfinal ThreeWellington Regional Stadium, Wellington, 7.30pm

Sunday, November 19Quarterfinal FourMelbourne Rectangular Stadium, Melbourne, 6pm


Friday, November 24Semifinal OneBrisbane Stadium, Brisbane, 10pm

Saturday, November 25Semifinal TwoMt Smart Stadium, Auckland, 6pm


Saturday, December 2Final at Brisbane Stadium, Brisbane, 10pm

Did You Know?

The Rugby League World Cup trophy is known as The Paul Barriere Trophy after the President of the Federation Francaise de Rugby a XIII between 1947 to 1955. Barriere was a driving force behind the creation of the International Rugby League Board and the first Rugby League World Cup in 1954.