Manu Samoa have confirmed they turned down a Test against the All Blacks, believing two games against the Māori All Blacks were more worthwhile to the side that has not played together in nearly two years.
A 31-man squad was named this morning to face the Māori and Tonga in July, with just six players coming from Super Rugby, and limited numbers available from Europe due to clashes with club competitions.
The squad assembles in Wellington in just three weeks, and having not played since the last World Cup.
Coach Seilala Mapasua told 1 NEWS playing the All Blacks on July 3 was not in Manu Samoa's best interests.
"Getting them down here, two weeks quarantine, then to ask them to come out straight into a Test match, you're looking at health and safety [issues] there," Mapasua said.
"No disrespect to the Māori but they can give us the best preparation for our focus, which are the World Cup qualifiers against Tonga."
Mapusua said the squad had the chance to unite Samoa amid the political upheaval engulfing the country after the election.
“It’s a welcome distraction," he told Breakfast today.
"This is definitely a cause that all Samoans can get behind. Rugby and sport has the power to unite nations and I’m really hoping with this group of boys we can put some smiles on our people’s faces.
“This is a great opportunity to breed some new players, grow our player pool."
Crusaders prop Michael Alaalatoa was named captain of the squad, which includes 13 uncapped players.
The Manu will face the Māori All Blacks in a double-header with the All Blacks-Tonga Test on July 3.
Ah See Tuala - Northampton
AJ Alatimu - Seattle, USA
Aki Seiuli* – Glasgow
Alamanga Motuga – Counties Manukau
Albert Anae* – Rebels
Auvasa Falealii – Papatoetoe
Ben Nee Nee – Kamaisihi, Japan
D’Angelo Leuila – Fraser Tech
Dwayne Polataivao – Pakuranga
Elisapeta Alofipo* – Tama Uli Salelologa
Henry Stowers – Brumbies
Henry Taefu – Western Force
Jack Lam – NEC Green Rockets
Joe Perez* - Laulii Lions
John Vaili - Aana Chiefs
JP Sauni* – Associates, Australia
Kalolo Tuiloma* – Counties Manukau
Losi Filipo* – Bay of Plenty
Michael Alaalatoa – Crusaders, captain
Neria Formai* – Hawke’s Bay
Olajuwon Noa* – Hunter Wildfires
Ray Niuia – Blues
Rodney Yona – Brumbies
Sam Slade* – Counties
Seilala Lam – Perpignan
Stacey Ili – Rebels
Teofilo Paulo – Avalon, NZ
Theodore McFarland* – Moamoa Roosters
Tietie Tuimauga* – Manawatu
TJ Ioane – Glasgow
Tomasi Alosio* – Hutt Old Boys Marist
* - indicates an uncapped player