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Grand final stars feature in strong Toa Samoa squad

Six players who featured in this year's NRL Telstra Premiership grand final have been named in a strong Toa Samoa squad to contest this year's Pacific Championships.

Premiership-winning Penrith Panthers quartet Stephen Crichton, Spencer Leniu, Izack Tago and Brian To'o will be joined by Brisbane Broncos duo Keenan Palasia and Jesse Arthars in new coach Ben Gardiner's squad to take on Australia and New Zealand in the tournament starting later this month.

However, with Panthers five-eighth Jarome Luai ruled out with a shoulder injury he reaggravated in the win over the Broncos, fresh faces including Daejarn Asi and Karl Oloapu, as well as Crichton are expected to spend time in the halves. 

Dubbed "the minister for energy" by Gardiner, the coach said he was hopeful to see Luai join the squad and would still be a "close part of what we do".

After guiding his side to their first ever Rugby League World Cup final last year, Samoa will again be led by Eels skipper Junior Paulo who said the tournament would provide his team with "another opportunity to shock the world again".

"With the balance of young and senior players, it's definitely a good combination that we have got going," Paulo said.

Cowboys back Murray Taulagi - who was part of the Kangaroos squad in the Rugby League World Cup last year and also recently played for the Australian Prime Minister's XIII in Papua New Guinea - has also be named in the new-look squad to make his first appearance in blue. 

Samoa will play its first game of the Pacific Championships against Australia in Townsville on October 14, before taking on New Zealand in Auckland the following week. 

Toa Samoa squad

Jesse Arthars (Brisbane Broncos)
Daejarn Asi (Parramatta Eels)
Gordon Chan Kum Tong (Manly Sea Eagles)
Stephen Crichton (Penrith Panthers)
Sualauvi Faalogo (Melbourne Storm)
Royce Hunt (Cronulla Sharks)
Luciana Leilua (North Queensland Cowboys)
Connelly Lemuelu (Dolphins)
Spencer Leniu (Penrith Panthers)
Heilum Luki (North Queensland Cowboys)
Grey Marzhew (Newcastle Knights)
Justin Matamua (Wests Tigers)
Terrell May (Sydney Roosters)
Karl Oloapu (Canterbury Bulldogs)
Keenan Palasia (Brisbane Broncos)
Junior Paulo (Parramatta Eels)
Izack Tago (Penrith Panthers)
Murray Taulagi (North Queensland Cowboys)
Young Tonumaipea (Melbourne Storm)
Brian To'o (Penrith Panthers)
Stefano Utoikamanu (Wests Tigers)

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