Joseph Suaalii's World Cup move makes mockery of Willie Mason call

·Contributor
·3-min read
Joseph Suaalii and Willie Mason are pictured side by side.
Joseph Suaalii's decision to join Samoa has made a mockery of Willie Mason's urging the nation to sack coach Matt Parish. Pictures: Getty Images

Matt Parish, if he copped Willie Mason's hint, would be out of a job by now.

You may remember big Willie, a year or so ago, advised Parish to throw it in as Samoan coach after a player-led revolt went public.

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"If I was Parish, watching all this s*** unfold, I’m going to stand down because I’m holding this nation back," Willie, who has Pasifika heritage, thundered on his own podcast.

“I'd never want to go into camp with all this sh*t being said about me, knowing full well that they don't like me. I’d be highly embarrassed.

"Obviously no-one wants to play (for him), they’ve f***ing signed a petition to get (him) out – how much more of a hint can you not take?"

Ah yes, the infamous petition.

A group of former and current players - some of them household NRL names – put their names to a document demanding then Samoan PM Tuiaepa Sailele Malielegaoi punt Parish.

A Johns brothers-Sonny Bill Williams coaching triumvirate was put forward as a possible replacement team.

The petition, signed by the likes of Jarome Luai, Brian To'o, Anthony Milford, Josh Papalii and Josh Aloiai, outlined complaints about an alleged lack of professionalism in training camps, damaged relationships with key stakeholders and an inability to attract Samoa's best players.

This week the game's hottest young property – Roosters sensation Joseph Suaalii – turned down the opportunity to represent Australia at the World Cup, instead nailing his colours to the Samoan mast.

How's that for attracting Samoa's best?

Samoa attracts NRL stars in defiance of petition to sack coach

Suaalii joins a squad likely to feature those five signatories mentioned above alongside genuine heavyweight NRL talent in Junior Paulo, Luciano Leilua, Raymond Faitala-Mariner and Jaydn Su'A.

The depth is so impressive several regular NRL starters won’t break into the matchday 17.

Parish's coaching staff includes respected rugby league figures Daniel Holdsworth, Richard Agar, Geoff Toovey, Lee Radford and Frank Pritchard.

They must also see something in the head coach.

Samoa won't win the World Cup but they have the players to go deep into the tournament.

Joseph Suaalii's last-minute decision to represent Samoa at the upcoming Rugby League World Cup has sparked a heated debate about eligibiliy. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)
Joseph Suaalii's last-minute decision to represent Samoa at the upcoming Rugby League World Cup has sparked a heated debate about eligibiliy. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

So how has Parish gone from a coach no-one apparently wanted to play under to a coach they are now clamouring over barbed wire fences to play for?

"Because the petition was built on bulls*** in the first place," one source close to the Samoan camp told Yahoo Sport Australia.

"Most just signed up like sheep without really understanding what they were putting their name to.

"Matt always had support from those in charge and has always been open to feedback.

"He is well liked and respected by the players and shows the elders in the Samoan set-up a lot of respect.

"Do you think someone like Joseph Suaalii would sign up to play if he didn't think everything was being professionally run?"

Good question.

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