Local rugby player to play for USA Nat’l Team
Local rugby player Keiki Misipeka will be heading to the Rugby League, where he will play for the USA National Team Tomahawks this coming June 1 against Samoa’s National Team, Toa Samoa, when these two teams meet for the Ohana Cup in Aloha Stadium in Halawa, Hawaii. This game is also part of Samoa’s 51st Independence Day Celebration.
“Last year I was part of the Tomahawks team that played against Tonga, where we came up short as Tonga took the win by a score of 28-20,” said Misipeka. “I have been doing early morning running sessions starting at about 4:00 a.m. and then playing with the Fagatogo Rugby Team. Playing a lot here in American Samoa, I know what to expect from the boys in Samoa. They are very physical and I have been preparing myself,” he explained.
Last year Misipeka played for the USA team along side his brother Kea against Scotland, and afterwards, he was called to play again with the USA team against Tonga in the Ohana Cup. Misipeka is also the American National Rugby League Development Officer for American Samoa.
“There are clubs in the United States and Australia that are willing to take players from American Samoa, but the only problem we face here is that we do not have competition set in place. The other problem is that we do not have enough playing fields here, so that sets things back a little. This is a problem we are trying to tackle,” he said.
Misipeka did say that there are two local players that are being looked at — Peter Masoi and Henry Leatio’o.
“These two players are on our radar, but like I said before, it is very hard to push them if we have these other problems. Playing under the USA Brand, we play teams from the big countries such as Ireland and South Africa and that is big exposure for players from American Samoa,” he said.
Misipeka stated that they will be having four or five more International Matches that will be a build up for the the final selection of the USA World Cup squad. He also said that there are other Samoans on the squad at this time from the US and Australia.
The 2013 Rugby League World Cup will be the fourteenth staging of the Rugby League World Cup tournament and will be hosted by England and Wales with matches also to be held in France and Ireland. It will be from October 28 to November this year.
Fourteen teams will be competing in the tournament: Australia, England, New Zealand, Samoa, Wales, Fiji, France, Papua New Guinea, Ireland, Scotland, Tonga, Cook Islands, Italy and the United States. New Zealand became the defending champions when they defeated Australia in the 2008 Rugby League World Cup final. This Rugby League World Cup will be the first for both Italy and the United States.
The big Center/second row player, 5’10 and 250 pound Misipeka was born in American Samoa and is a 1998 graduate of Samoana High School.