NEWS
09/21/2011 01:59 EDT | Updated 11/20/2011 05:12 EST

Tagicakibau bros hoping to be picked to oppose each other in Pacific islands World Cup clash

AUCKLAND, New Zealand - Their sisters have printed 40 T-shirts with Samoa's rugby emblem on one half and Fiji's on the other. Across the front are the words "Tagicakibau" and "Brothers."

The Tagicakibau brothers, Samoa winger Sailosi and Fiji winger Michael, have been gathering tickets this week to make sure all 40 shirts have a family member to cover on Sunday at Eden Park where their teams meet in a Pacific islands World Cup showdown before a 60,000-sellout crowd.

The last thing left to wait for are the lineups.

The brothers might not even play.

Sailosi twinged his hamstring in the 17-10 loss to Wales last Sunday. Michael has yet to get on the field for Fiji in his first World Cup.

"If called upon it will be a special day for me and my family," said Michael, who at 26 was two years younger than Sailosi.

The Auckland-born brothers have been joking about a possible clash ever since Samoa qualified for Fiji's pool in 2009. They met up for meals with their parents on Monday and Tuesday, but there was only a little banter.

"It felt a bit weird, a bit awkward to be honest," Sailosi said. "We tried not to talk too much about rugby. I think we'll leave it until after the game on Sunday."

Michael said: "Being the younger brother I like to keep a bit quiet and humble."

How they ended up with different teams starts with their parents: Their father, Isikeli, is Fijian, and their mum, Lealofi, is Samoan.

Sailosi had never been in touch with his Samoan side until he travelled with a New Zealand Marist sevens team to a tournament in Samoa in 2000. When the Samoans found out he was one of theirs — half, anyway — he was invited to play sevens there and stayed. From the national sevens team he graduated to the 15s in 2003.

"When I got a chance to put on the blue jersey I met a lot of relatives I wouldn't have met normally," he said. "I'm proud of my Samoan and Fijian heritage."

The brothers played for Taranaki province in New Zealand before moving to England. Michael joined Saracens and Sailosi, London Irish, and they have met in the English Premiership. Michael has also faced Leicester's Alesana Tuilagi, Samoa's left winger.

"Both my brother and Tuilagi are very physical and quick wingers for their size," he said. "This will be a massive encounter, it will be very physical, not only for the outside backs, but right across the park. It will be a massive game for both teams."

Sailosi, in his third World Cup, said he was happy for Michael when he was first chosen for Fiji: "I guess they didn't want to let another (Tagicakibau) get away," he said.

He added he was proud of his brother, on the back of only four caps since 2007, to make Fiji's World Cup squad in a position with a lot of depth.

As for their parents, the boys said they would be cheering for both of them.

"I don't think they'll mind which team wins, but I'm hoping it's going to be the boys in white," Michael said with a smile.

"There's a lot at stake and hopefully we'll both get a chance," Sailosi said. "I'll be playing for the 14 brothers next to me for the win, and hopefully I'll be happier than Michael. After the game we can be blood brothers again."