Samoa made history when they qualified for their first-ever Rugby League World Cup Final after defeating England last night.
After losing to England in the tournament’s opening fixture 60-6 the Samoans turned things around in their semi-final clash that went to golden point.
Stephen Crichton proved the difference maker when he kicked a field goal to secure his nation the 27-26 victory and a date with Australia at Old Trafford next Sunday morning.
Heading into the Final one of the biggest stories will be the matchup between Australian half Nathan Cleary and Samoan half Jarome Luai.
The two both joined the Penrith Panthers in their teenage years and have formed a strong bond that has served their partnership in Penrith’s spine well as they led the club to its first premiership in 18 years in 2021 and helped them secure back-to-back titles last season.
Since 2021 Cleary and Luai have also been in the halves for the New South Wales State of Origin team where they won the series during their first year playing at that level together.
Luai spoke about his and Cleary’s relationship after Samoa’s big win against England and addressed the fact that his close friend is standing between him and World Cup glory.
“We are competitors through and through, it is going to be a great battle against one of my boys but out there, there are no friends on the field,” Luai said.
'It is going to be a great battle against one of my boys but out there, there are no friends on the field'
The World Cup final is set to produce some fireworks 👇https://t.co/uabJMvw3TV
— Fox League (@FOXNRL) November 12, 2022
“There is only brothers and enemies, and I am always going to look at it the same way.
“We grew up in the same comp, in the younger ages I played for St Marys and he played for Brothers, but never on a really high scale like this.”
Australia are already firm favourites to win the final and secure a third straight World Cup victory.
Samoa on the other hand are not only seeking their first-ever World Cup but are looking to be the first-ever tier two nation to win the tournament.
If they can complete this Cinderella story then it is likely that their status will be re-evaluated which could have a profound effect on State of Origin and how the Samoan side looks going forward.