It’s no secret Samoa is gearing up for an exciting year of rugby.
One familiar fixture in the line-up is loose forward, Greg Foe.
Starting off in the U-20’s programme, moving up to the Sevens and then finding his place with the Manu, Foe has seen and done it all.
To add to his amazing repertoire, he is on island trialing for Samoa’s first ever Ten’s team.
Foe is clearly a forced to be reckoned with. Now older and more mature, Foe offers an interesting perspective of the life of an athlete pursuing the coveted blue jersey and his journey to the top.
In a tell-all exclusive interview with the Samoa Observer, Foe reveals lesser known information about himself and the life of an elite rugby player.
Q: What got you started in rugby?
School was going well. Throughout school I really didn’t make an effort in rugby until I was 16-17. I had a good mentor at the time, a coach who trained me up. I gave it a good crack. I didn’t really think of a future to be honest or plan for it to be my professional career.
I finished school work and wanted to be teacher but somewhere along the line I started seeing rugby as a choice, all my friends are rugby players.
Q: Where are you from in New Zealand?
“Wellington. I was born here (Samoa) and did primary school here. Then towards the end of primary school, Nana took me over to Auckland. I left in 2011 and have been in Wellington ever since.
Q: How many siblings do you have?
An older sister, a little sister and a younger brother. But there’s a big gap between me and my little siblings, 13 years. So I can’t really talk to them, they look up to me as well.
Me and my older sister were brought up together and so when I get frustrated, I talk to her.
Sometimes I’ll just text her and say, “I need to talk,” and I’ll just vent. It’s mainly my sister, I’ll vent to her all the time and call her and tell her everything. Then she’s like, “Well you’re the one who chose to play rugby and you wanted to go there in the first place.” It keeps me grounded and keeps me honest. She’s the balance of things and my main supporter.
Q: What do you do in New Zealand?
I’m a P.T. (Personal Trainer)
Q: What is the greatest perk of being an international rugby player?
Traveling. Traveling is a big eye opener. Going to different countries and mingling with other cultures you kind of do a bit of self discovery at the same time. It’s not all about rugby. You go to different countries and see different people and the way they do things. Then we come here and kind of have it pretty good compared to other places. Long story short, I’m grateful for the opportunity to travel and do what I do.
When I’m home it’s refreshing but the traveling is what is the greatest perk that you work for in the long term.
Q: What is your favorite place that you’ve visited so far?
Hong Kong. It’s such a big city and there’s heaps to do and there’s a lot of expats there. You don’t have to travel far to do stuff, because we are pretty much central – this is despite the fact that it’s probably the muggiest city that I’ve been to.
Also, because it was my second tour with the Sevens that I went there. It was nice, the weather was nice and the people were good.
Q: You’ve been in the game for a long time now, what was it like starting off in the U20’s?
I think in 2011 is where things switched for me. I got selected for the U20’s and then I thought, “Maybe, what if I could give it a good crack and see how it goes.” It just started from there, I didn’t really think of making any teams. I started moving away from school and started putting all my time into training. I started, as you do at that age, I just put all my eggs in one basket and just went for it.
Then from there, I moved to Wellington. When I moved, things started blossoming for me in rugby. I was making rep teams and then that’s where I was picked up for the Samoa Sevens. I was happy when I got the call but at the same time I was like, “Oh, I’ll just give it a go.” I wasn’t over the moon about it but it was just one of those things where I’ll give it a good crack and see how it goes. It just went from there, I don’t get as much satisfaction from there as I do having played for the Manu Samoa 15’s.
Q: What is life like now that you’ve been in with the Manu for a long time and you’re future goals?
I’ve been in the professional environment for a while now. I feel like everything I do, I’m being watched. The way I eat, the way I train, the way I play has to be at a certain standard for me to be satisfied. I know that if I don’t perform, if I don’t have a good day at training I get real frustrated.
There’s a lot of pressure and expectation put on you, especially since you sacrifice so much back home to come here. I’ve come back and forth here so often. But I guess I don’t use that as a factor to make excuses for bad performances, I see it as a turning point it’s either you can bottle it up and put your best foot forward or you can get sick about it and have a bad attitude and affect those around you. Some of the boys kind of look at me as a leader and I feel I have that kind of standard and carry myself well, especially when things aren’t going well.
Those kinds of things keep me grounded but make me think twice about complaining. You just have to be that guy that stays in the middle and tell everyone, “Why are you here?” “What is your vision?”
I guess for me, I want to make a career out of it and sign a big contract, get signed overseas and that’s the end goal. This is temporary, we’re only going to be here for so long before we go back home. Got to keep your eyes on the prize and not let small things that are happening around here now affect how you carry yourself and how you perform.
Q: Do you consider yourself a leader of the team?
Yup, I see myself as a leader. I’ve been a leader since high school and captained few teams to championships. I know what it’s like when the team’s down and I know the vibes I get from the boys and how the boys are feeling . You don’t have to talk to anyone to understand how they feel. You can see body language and little comments up in the dorms and I know when the boys have had enough.
There’s a time to just sit back and let them be and there’s a time when you get them together and talk about things. We’re all going through the same thing. Some of us show it and some of us don’t. At the end of the day we’re all making sacrifices but it’s important we stick together. My job is to keep them together, especially the Kiwi boys. A few of the boys have kids and some of the boys have been let go from work to come here because five weeks is a long time to hold a job. It’s things like that that I have to take into consideration. I can’t be like, “ Come on boys that’s not good enough”, you have to understand the general feeling of the boys and keep it together.
Q: What are some the techniques you use to avoid succumbing to the intense pressure of being an elite athlete?
I’m not much of a joker on the team.
You’ve got the jokers, and I like to stay quiet and do everything I can right. I worry about myself before the other person but it’s kind of hard when you’ve got the other guys and they look at you as a leader. But sometimes you just have to do you and look after yourself first.
I like to have space. Sometimes I just chuck music in and block everything out and listen to some music.
Or sometimes when I’m with the boys I don’t talk the whole time. They just walk and I just follow. Sometimes just let someone else lead the way and that’s how I keep my sanity. I take a lot of time out for myself, whether it’s sitting outside. I can’t sleep during the day , regardless of how hard the training was during the day, I can’t sleep. Most of the time, I have this little diary where I write down my year end goals and I like to look back. I write down goals and I look back and see all the boxes I’ve ticked.
Q:What do you do when you’re not playing rugby?
I’ve committed so much to rugby so when I’m not training I’m working and being a P.T. Anything other than sport, I just like free time. I like doing nothing. I just stay at home. Sometimes I go for coffee with the boys. When I get home I have so many coffee dates lined up because everyone wants to know about the trip and then I have the same conversation all over again. But it’s good, everyone’s interested in what we’re doing.