Leuluai to captain Samoa in Pacific Cup qualifier

Leeds Rhinos star Kylie Leuluai has shaken off a mystery stomach bug and will take his place as captain of Samoa for tomorrow night’s SP Brewery Pacific Cup qualifying match in Cairns.

The Leeds Rhinos mainstay, who was part of the Grand Final winning squad last Saturday, had to be taken to hospital after experiencing severe stomach cramps but said it was going to take more than some “dodgy pasta” to stop him from playing in Barlow Park clash, which is expected to attract up to 8,000 local fans.

“I must have eaten some dodgy pasta or something but I’m all good to go now,” Leuluai said today.

“It’s going to be a huge game for us and the Cook Islands.

“We both want to go to PNG for the Pacific Cup and have a chance of winning it so it will be no holds barred tomorrow night.
“Especially with the hardship our people are facing back home, I’m sure it will really spur us on because it’s an emotional time for a lot of the boys who have family there.”

Samoa received a further boost today with news Penrith Panthers veteran Tony Puletua, who was in Sydney tending to family commitments, will attend the match in support.

While Puletua was unavailable for selection in tomorrow night’s game he is confirmed for the SP Brewery Pacific Cup should Samoa win through to the tournament.

Meanwhile, Cook Islands captain Tere Glassie believes his young side will go into the match with nothing to fear and everything to gain.

“We’ve got a really young side but the thing with young blokes is that they’re fearless and do everything 100 miles an hour,” Glassie said.

“A lot of them are Toyota Cup Under-20 players so they’ve got a lot of confidence.

“The enthusiasm in the squad is great and we’re all extremely proud to be representing our nation so I’m sure it’ll be a great game.”