Toa Samoa veteran, Frank Pritchard, has spoken of the honour he feels to captain his country for what could be his last Rugby League World Cup.
Speaking to the Samoa Observer, the Paramatta Eels and Toa Samoa second rower said he feels blessed to be able to don the blue jersey once more.
The man with roots in Vaigaga and Faleasi’u knows the road ahead is tough with New Zealand, Tonga and Scotland standing in the way of a play off spot. But he knows what it takes to win and he has vowed to leave everything on the field for his teammates and the tapuaiga of Samoans in Samoa and all over the world.
“I am grateful,” he said. “I feel lucky enough to captain this Toa Samoa side, I am truly blessed to play for Samoa.”
Pritchard is a veteran of the game.
After stints in the N.R.L. for the Paramatta Eels, he also tried out the Super League in Europe.
On the international front, Pritchard represented New Zealand Kiwis in 2013 at the previous Rugby League World Cup in Europe.
“There is massive difference between playing for Kiwis and the Toa Samoa,” he said.
“Playing for Toa Samoa means everything. It’s about culture, heritage, identity and family.
“Playing for New Zealand means the funding is there and everything but playing for Samoa is honoring our parents and our heritage.”
Pritchard said their trip home ahead of the tournament has been fantastic. While they have tried to keep things low key, the captain said he is extremely happy about the younger players.
He said lots of the boys in the team had never been to Samoa before and they were here to learn as well.
He also mentioned that this trip will be a good time for the boys to honour the place where there parents and families originated from.
“Lot of players here with the team has never been to Samoa before so it’s a good time for them to come and meet their families here in Samoa,” Pritchard said.
“One good thing about this trip is to get the players to have an understanding of the Samoan culture and heritage and being humble.
“The trip is also a good opportunity for us to come back to Samoa and appreciate the sacrifice our parents made by leaving Samoa for better opportunities in New Zealand and to also understand the struggle they have had, because most of the players never experienced having no food and money.”
Pritchard is excited and confident of the new and young boys coming in the Toa Samoa squad for the World Cup.
“I am excited and confident and also Coach Parish and his faith in the squad and I think we will be performing well.”
Toa Samoa is scheduled to leave tomorrow.