A collision between a couple of Samoa’s former NRL ‘Slammin’ Sams’ is ready to provide a thunderous launch for the Super League season in England.
Sam Lisone, always known affectionately as ‘ Slammin’ at the Gold Coast Titans, will make his debut for Leeds Rhinos on Thursday and go head-to-head with Sam Kasiano, the one-time Canterbury Bulldogs and Melbourne Storm prop who’s been signed by Warrington.
And after another of the big pre-season moves, Kasiano will team up with new Wolves recruit, Paul Vaughan, who’s taking up a new challenge in English rugby league at the age of 31 after making over 200 NRL appearances for Canberra Raiders, St George Illawarra and Canterbury.
All three ‘prop idols’ have had huge experience in the Australian game but bristle at the idea that their move to England is some form of gentle easing down before retirement.
“Personally, I feel good physically. I haven’t come over here for a holiday – I want to play some good footy,” Vaughan insists, while Lisone, looking for a fresh start after losing motivation with the Titans, adds: “I want to give it a red-hot crack.”
Kasiano, meanwhile, reckons that at 32, and following a successful four-year stint in Perpignan with Catalans Dragons, he’s ready to prove he can still be one of Super League’s most destructive props.
Kasiano, who like Lisone was born in Auckland and has played for Samoa, is looking forward to the first match of the season with Leeds, believing this could be the season he goes one better than in 2021 when he featured for the Dragons in the Super League grand final loss to St Helens.
“This is a new team in a new year and we’re ready to go. I want to win something,” said Kasiano, who also fell just short of the biggest prize in the Australian game in 2012 when the Bulldogs lost to Melbourne Storm.
Warrington would have had two Australian internationals in their ranks for the opening match, but twice-capped Vaughan’s new teammate Josh McGuire, signed from St George Illawarra, was ruled out of the opener after being handed a seven-match ban by the Rugby Football League.
The 32-year-old forward was found guilty of using “unacceptable language” in the pre-season match against Leigh on 4 February.