Dragons prop to make Samoa debut at fourth time of asking in star-studded tournament

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SELECTED: Dragons prop Aki Seiuli starts for Samoa
SELECTED: Dragons prop Aki Seiuli starts for Samoa

DRAGONS prop Aki Seiuli will finally make his Samoa debut in their Pacific Nations Cup opener against Australia A.

The 29-year-old loosehead will start in the clash in Suva in Fiji on Saturday morning (kick-off 2am), a fixture in a mouth-watering competition that is followed by the hosts facing Tonga.

Seiuli has suffered international disappointment three times but will finally enjoy match action in a Samoa jersey.

The prop, who was born and raised in New Zealand, was approached by Samoa ahead of the 2019 World Cup but opted out because he was on the comeback trail from a knee injury and was heading for Glasgow.

Last summer he could not play against the Maori All Blacks or Tonga because of coronavirus travel restrictions and then he came agonisingly close to an appearance last December.

Seiuli was selected to play in the fixture against the Barbarians at Twickenham only for the game to be called off just 90 minutes before kick-off because of an outbreak in the Baa Baas' camp.

It should be fourth time lucky for the front rower this weekend and he will look to stake a Test claim in the build-up to next year's World Cup, when they will go up against England, Japan and Argentina plus a qualifier.

Samoa face Tonga next weekend before finishing the tournament against Fiji, who have left ex-Dragons tighthead Mesake Doge out of their opener.

Seiuli has signed a contract extension after being a mainstay of the Dragons pack after arriving from Glasgow last summer.

He played in all but one game - when given permission to miss the clash with Edinburgh for the Barbarians fixture - in his first season with the Dragons.

Seiuli will aim to provide stiff competition for Wales props Rob Evans and Rhodri Jones in the coming season after their arrivals from the Scarlets and Ospreys respectively.

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