The Pacific Island nation of Samoa is well-known for its love of Rugby League and its passion for the sport. Though the Rugby Union tends to supercede its League counterpart in terms of popularity, it has not stopped a great amount of Samoans taking up the League version and, in turn, making a name for themselves in both hemispheres. However, many Samoans whom play League were actually born in New Zealand with their Samoan heritage playing a key role in their upbringing.

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Therefore, although those listed may well have grown up away from Samoa and at one time in their career actually represented New Zealand, they will be included on this list because they have a dominant Samoan ancestry and have, at one point in their career, represented Samoa at international level.

Since Super League was created in 1996, a number of Samoans have made an impact on the game. Here are five of the best.

Francis Meli

Born in the Samoan capital, Apia, Meli made his name for himself at Lancashire club St Helens after moving from Auckland (now New Zealand) Warriors ahead of the 2006 season. Whilst at the Saints he firmly established himself as one of Super League's best finishing and most powerful wingers - with a 6 ft 2 frame and 100kg of weight behind him, he became one of the most devastating in the top flight.

Over the course of eight seasons with the Saints, he made 223 appearances, scoring 145 tries. His time in England however, was not finished when he left St Helens at the end of 2013, instead, he made the move to the newly-rebranded Salford Red Devils.

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There, Meli's try-scoring record continued in the same impressive fashion as he notched up 14 tries in 19 appearances. After failing to be offered another contract by Salford, Meli retired at the end of the 2014 season at the age of 35.

Between 2000 and 2010, Meli earned seven caps for Samoa, appearing in both the 2000 and 2008 World Cups for the Pacific Island side.

Willie Talau

Another Saints player and another born in Samoa's capital, Apia, Willie Talau moved to St Helen's in 2003 from NRL side Canterbury Bulldogs. At the Lancashire side, Talau earned himself the reputation of one of the most formidable centres in Super League. Settling into the Saints side seamlessly, Talau scored two tries in the 2004 Challenge Cup Final, and participated in St Helens' 2006 treble-winning season, scoring in both the 2006 Challenge Cup Final and the 2006 Super League Grand Final.

Throughout his six seasons with St Helens, Talau notched up just shy of 150 appearances, scoring 65 times. Then, ahead of the 2009 season, he moved to the then-named Salford City Reds.

Here, Talau appeared just 29 times in a Salford shirt - scoring four tries - and, because of his injury woes, retired at the end of the 2010 season at the age of 34.

In 2007, after playing 13 games for New Zealand between 1999 and 2006, he switched his allegiance to Samoa. And, in 2008, Talau represented Samoa in the World Cup where he played three times.

Ali Lautiiti

Arguably one of the greatest overseas signings Super League has ever seen, Ali Lautiiti moved to Leeds Rhinos ahead of the 2004 season after starring for New Zealand Warriors in the NRL. In West Yorkshire, Lautiiti made 196 appearances for Leeds and managed to get over the whitewash a remarkable 63 times. Whilst at Leeds, Lautiiti won two League Leaders' Shields, one World Club Challenge and four Super League titles, establishing himself as one of the most feared and powerful - whilst also one of the most skilful - forwards in the game.

Though the 6 ft 2, 115kg monster moved to Wakefield Trinity in 2012 at the age of 33, he still managed to see out another four seasons in Super League, playing at a consistently high level as he had done throughout his career. After appearing 94 times for Wakefield and scoring 20 tries, Lautiiti moved back to New Zealand Warriors at the end of 2015, where he played just one season before retiring in 2016.

Lautiiti, though born in Auckland, New Zealand, and despite representing the Kiwis 19 times between 2000 and 2006, switched his allegiance to Samoa in 2007 and went on to play in the 2008 World Cup, earning four caps in the process.

Harrison Hansen

Like Lautiiti, Harrison Hansen was born in Auckland, New Zealand, and represented New Zealand at international level - though only once in 2006. However, in 2007 he chose to proudly honour the ancestry of his father Shane and mother Natalie by turning to the Samoan national side. Hansen was part of the Samoan World Cup squad for 2008 and was named captain ahead of the 2013 tournament, though injury meant he dropped out of the squad. In his six years donning the Samoan shirt, he registered six appearances and scored twice.

Though born in Auckland, Hansen grew up in Swinton, Lancashire where he progressed through the Wigan Warriors' academy setup. Making his debut in 2004, Hansen would go on to play ten seasons with the Warriors, making 243 appearances and scoring 43 tries. During his time at the club, Hansen made a name for himself as one of the most durable and physical forwards in Super League, playing a key role in Wigan's success in the early 2010s when they won two League Leaders' Shields, two Challenge Cups and two Super League titles.

In 2013, Hansen, relocated to Salford to join the Marwan Koukash revolution; in his two seasons at the club, he notched up over 50 appearances and crossed the whitewash nine times. Then, in 2016 he moved to promotion-chasing Leigh Centurions where he became a key figure in Leigh's return to the top flight. Although the Centurions were relegated once more in the 2017 season, Hansen stood out with some outstanding performances. At the age of 32, Hansen still has a few years left in him and is still Super League quality. As such, Leigh will be looking to Hansen once more in 2018 to help propel them back into Super League.

Kylie Leuluai

Who else could finish the list but this man? An absolute world-beater and one of the best prop forwards to ever grace Super League, Kylie Leuluai, was, like Hansen and Lautiiti, born in Auckland, New Zealand. Though Leuluai played for the New Zealand Maori side in the 2000 World Cup, he is of Samoan descent. After playing for Samoa at the 2008 World Cup, he was then named Samoan Player of the Year in 2009.

Leuluai moved to England - and more specifically Leeds - ahead of the 2007 season after being something of a bit-part NRL player in the late 90s and early noughties. At the age of 29, it seemed as though the 107kg prop forward was coming to the UK for one last payday. This could not have been further from the truth; Leuluai, until the end of 2015, was an integral part of Leeds' Super League dominance. Oer the period of nine seasons, the former Manly forward won six Grand Final titles, two World Club Challenges and two Challenge Cups to make him the most successful overseas player in Leeds' history.

Leuluai made an impressive 258 appearances in a Rhinos' shirt and scored 22 tries. In every season from 2011, Leulaui announced that he would retire at the end of that year, only to reverse his plans and continue on into the next season. It was 2015 when Kyle finally hung up his boots after revealing that he had played that season with an irregular heartbeat. It was a condition which made playing the game an incredible ask, but, one which firmly etched Leuluai into Leeds folklore. And, after a treble-winning season, he went out on a tremendous high.