Rugby League World Cup: Daejarn Asi declares for Toa Samoa quest, sets sights on next NRL contract

Former NZ Warriors halfback Daejarn Asi is in line to represent Toa Samoa at the upcoming Rugby League World Cup, as he hunts for his next NRL opportunity. 

Asi, 22, wasn't re-signed by the Auckland club, despite promising performances this season, after signing from North Queensland Cowboys.

He is understood to be on the radar of Samoan selectors, with plenty of eyes on a potentially star-studded side.

"To be able to represent Samoa, it would be a pretty special moment for my family," Asi told Newhshub. 

Asi, who is Māori on his mother's side and Samoan on his father's, was born at Christchurch, before moving to the Gold Coast as a 10-year-old. 

"'I've already had the privilege of representing my mum's side with the Māori All Stars last year, so to also represent my dad's side and my grandma's side would also be a privilege," he continued. 

"I got a few phone calls earlier in the year, saying I was on the wider list. It's a confidence booster, I guess, when you get those sorts of phone calls.

"To be able to be selected, it would be a special moment to play alongside those guys and learn more about the culture. I didn't really grow up learning too much, but getting to learn that side of my heritage would mean a lot."

On the field, plenty of pre-tournament talk surrounds the opening clash between Samoa and hosts England, with many predicting an upset, if the Pacific nation have their full stock of stars available. 

Daejarn Asi celebrates with Marcelo Montoya.
Daejarn Asi celebrates with Marcelo Montoya. Photo credit: Image - Photosport

Penrith Panthers superstar Stephen Crichton is the latest to commit to Samoa. 

For Asi, the opportunity to tour with the likes of Crichton and Jarome Luai, as well as former Warriors teammate Chanel Harris-Tavita, is one he's relishing. 

"The squad is looking pretty strong," Asi reflected. "The senior guys who have played Origin, they're coming back to play for Samoa. 

"That's a massive plus, being able to get those guys back. The squad that they're building has a chance of going deep in the finals.

"It's a lot stronger than it has [been] in the past. Even mid-season, the team had a pretty strong squad.

"I'm looking forward to what Samoa can do at this World Cup." 

Many around the Samoan team - and indeed the wider game - hope they can emulate what Mate Ma'a Tonga have done in recent years, attracting big-name players to turn out for their heritage, forming a formidable roster. 

"It's awesome," Asi said. "You've seen what Jason Taumalolo did with Tonga and the influence he had in bringing more NRL players back to play for Tonga. 

Daejarn Asi.
Daejarn Asi. Photo credit: Image - Photosport

"I think in the next few years, more Samoan players will want to come back and play. Getting those guys back is awesome for the game of rugby league and also for Samoa."

Asi's Redcliffe Dolphins will feature in this week's Queensland Cup final against Norths Devils, with the World Cup the next potential chance for him to show what he's capable of, as he hunts for his next contract. 

"I haven't got anything set in stone yet. I've still got the next couple of weeks with Redcliffe. If i was selected in the [Samoa] squad, it would be good to get my name out there.

"I'm just looking forward to the experience."

Join us for live updates of the NZ Kiwis' Rugby League World Cup campaign, starting October 17