Fetu Samoa to play first women's international in eight years

Fetu Samoa will play their first women's rugby league international in eight years when they take on the Kiwi Ferns in Auckland on Saturday.

Billy-Jean Ale and Tasia Seumanufagai are the only survivors from the side that played Australia in Apia in 2011, while five of the 21-strong squad have previously represented New Zealand or Australia.

New Zealand Warriors second rower Luisa Gago was a part of the Kiwi Ferns World Cup squad in 2017 but said the opportunity to represent Samoa was one she could not ignore.

"It's not often that we get this chance and I think the last time Fetu Samoa had a team was 2011 so for us to come back it was a chance that I couldn't miss out and an opportunity that I couldn't turn down. Also my family supported me to go and play for Samoa, to represent my country," said Luisa Gago.

Luisa Gago was born and raised in Auckland but the 25 year old said representing Samoa is a huge deal for her family.

"Both my parents they are born in Samoa so I'm full Samoan. Especially my dad has always urged me to play for Samoa but the opportunity never came around so this time I felt like it was my time to give back to my parents - especially my parents - and my family and my villages and I think they're really proud of me for choosing Samoa," she said.

Saturday's clash will also mark the first meeting between Fetu Samoa and the Kiwi Ferns since 2008 and Gago hopes it's the start of more regular international matches.

"We're definitely making history again bringing a Fetu Samoa team back into it but it's good because rugby league is growing now for the women's so heaps of girls are playing it and we've got heaps of Samoan girls playing it so it was good that we could actually bring a team together and to bring it (with players) from Australia and New Zealand," Luisa Gago said.

Fetu Samoa head coach Glenn Brailey, who is also in charge of the Cronulla Sharks team in the NRL Women's Premiership, says women's rugby league continues to go from strength to strength.

"It's one of the fastest growing parts of the sport. I can tell from even our local junior league the participation numbers are in double digit percentages for women - league tag and rugby league - so the women's space is growing rapidly and I'm proud to be a part of it and hopefully part of that future where it takes it into that next stage, that next level," Glenn Brailey said.

Glenn Brailey, who is the father of Sharks NRL duo Blayke and Jayden Brailey, said he turned down a coaching role with the New South Wales Women's State of Origin team to be involved with Fetu Samoa and insists they will give it everything at the weekend.

"We want to compete with the best. We're not happy for just settling for where we are at this stage - we are here to genuinely improve where we are and compete every single chance we get," Glenn Brailey said.