Gone are the days when only three teams could win the World Cup.
In the last World Cup, Tonga joined England, New Zealand and Australia in the fight for the trophy reaching the semi-finals coming up short against England before beating Australia and Great Britain in the years since.
That came on the back of a decision amongst players with Tongan back grounds to represent their country turning Tonga into a great team and they are contenders again entering the World Cup as the number two ranked side.
However, their decision has sparked a similar shift in the Samoa team who are being tipped to have an even better chance of World Cup glory than Tonga with so many NRL champions in the side through a strong Penrith contingent led by five-eighth Jarome Luai and Grand Final try scorer Brian To’o the latter of which revealed on the NRL website how Tonga inspired them and how much he is looking forward to the game against England at St James’ Park in the tournament opener: “We are obviously inspired by what Tonga did and the way they were playing for their jersey.
“It was more than just a game and it meant something to them. They were playing for their people and playing for their country. It is something that drives us to play for Samoa.
“I just really want to replicate what Tonga did. Imagine if Samoa could do that. It would change the game. The first match against England will be mad. It is something we are really looking forward to.”
Luai echoed this excitement noting the passion of English fans: “It will be a good test for us to see how we go against one of the top dogs of the world.
“I have got an idea of how passionate England are about their sports and about their people, as well, so it will be a pretty crazy atmosphere to be a part of.
“I think there is a good pool of talent in the Samoa team, so we have a good chance against one of the top teams.”
Luai then went on to explain how this shift started with what reports down under have described as a “pact” in the wake of Tonga’s success: “We are probably in the same boat as Tonga were in terms of just wanting to represent the mother land and commit because we can build something special.
“It would mean a lot to us personally and we know what kind of effect it would have in the country and for Samoans everywhere if we can do something special at this World Cup.”
To’o then added: “I think some of the boys were a bit indecisive, but I was really happy with what I decided. and I think it spread.
“Word got around quick, and it was cool to see the other boys commit to Samoa as well.
“I obviously made the first move by deciding my allegiances and a few of the boys followed, but we said that it was up to each player and no matter whether they chose Samoa or elsewhere we would support each other.”