Best Premiership Pacific Islanders XV: The forwards

NORTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - MARCH 02: Soane Tonga'uiha of Northampton dives over for their third try during the Aviva Premiership match between Northampton Saints and London Irish at Franklin's Gardens on March 2, 2013 in Northampton, England. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

In the second part of this new series, we bring you the forwards selection of the best Premiership Pacific Islanders to play in England. The team is selected from those who have represented Fiji, Samoa and Tonga.

These players have been selected on the strength of their contributions to their club/clubs whilst in the Premiership, rather than their reputation built elsewhere or before/after they came to England.

You can see the backline selection for the team here.

8. Junior Paramore

The cousin of Terry Fanolua, Junior Paramore followed him to Gloucester in 1999 after helping Bedford Blues into the Premiership. The Samoan back row made over 100 appearances for Gloucester during a relatively successful period for the club at the turn of the century.

He is now Kit Manager for Bristol Bears, joining a sizeable Pacific Island contingent under Pat Lam’s leadership.

7. Akapusi Qera

The strong Fijian came to England in 2006 to join Pertemps Bees (now Birmingham and Solihull) and was their top try scorer in his first season. This persuaded Gloucester to sign him and his performances earned him a nomination for Premiership Player of the Year in 2008.

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He continued his impressive try-scoring rate throughout his time at Kingsholm and he made nearly 150 appearances in seven years. Qera eventually moved to Toulouse as a “medical joker”, and went on to play for Montpellier and Agen. Even at 35 years old Qera has returned to England and is turning out for Hartpury in the Championship.

6. Sione Kalamafoni

Completing a back row of former Gloucester players, Sione Kalamafoni has been a hugely dependable ball-carrier for both the Cherry and Whites and Leicester Tigers.

It is believed Kalamafoni will join the Scarlets in 2020, so it is possible he has played his last game in the Premiership if the season cannot be completed.

5. Dan Leo

Dan Leo may arguably be better known as the outspoken CEO of Pacific Rugby Welfare but he played a meaningful amount of his career in England, primarily with Wasps. He was part of their highly successful team of the mid-2000s, including winning the 2007 Heineken Cup.

After some time in France Leo returned to the Premiership in 2014 with London Irish, and also featured for London Welsh. Leo featured in two World Cups for Samoa and earned 39 international caps in total.

4. Steve Mafi

Steve Mafi was one of London Irish’s high profile signings for 2019/20 but he made his mark in England with Leicester. Able to play at second row or flanker, Mafi joined the Tigers in 2010 and played in their 2013 Premiership final victory.

Mafi left Leicester in 2014, and played for the Western Force in Australia and Castres in France. He also featured for Tonga in the 2015 and 2019 World Cups.

3. James Johnston

The most nomadic of all the players in this team. Tighthead prop Johnston represented Harlequins, Saracens, Wasps and Worcester Warriors over an eight year period. Half of this time was spent with Quins and he made over 100 appearances at the Twickenham Stoop, which included the 2012 title-winning campaign.

2. Aleki Lutui

Lutui was a long-serving player for Worcester Warriors between 2006 and 2013 and also played a season for Gloucester in 2015. He was a popular figure at Sixways and he was selected for Tonga in three World Cups.

Lutui has spent his latter years at Ampthill as the Bedfordshire side were promoted to the English Championship.

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1. Soane Tonga’uiha

Rounding off an all-Tongan front row, Soane Tonga’uiha was an important member of the Northampton Saints title-winning team in 2014. He formed a fearsome front row trio with Brian Mujati and Dylan Hartley, but almost left for Saracens in 2010; this contract U-turn sparked several years of bitter rivalry between Northampton and Saracens.

After three years in France he returned to England with Bristol and latterly Ampthill alongside Lutui.

Replacements

  • Tonga Leaʻaetoa – London Irish
  • Tevita Taumoepeau – Northampton Saints, Worcester Warriors
  • Logovi’i Mulipola- Leicester Tigers, Newcastle Falcons
  • Census Johnston – Saracens
  • Chris Vui – Worcester Warriors, Bristol Bears
  • Api Ratuniyarawa – Northampton Saints
  • Ofisa Treviranus – London Irish

Main image credit: Embed from Getty Images

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