Some say strength, stamina and fitness make a good rugby player, others say natural talent or skill does.
But for Malu Falaniko, the 20 year old who was recently selected as a Manu Samoa rep from the villages of Lano, Fasito’o – Tai, prayer is the key.
Malu, who is the first in his family to wear that blue jersey, is no stranger to Samoa Rugby Union; he represented the Under 20’s in Italy and then joined Samoa A later on.
He is one of five locally based rugby players selected to represent Manu Samoa in the Georgia, Tonga and Fiji test matches in June.
“I want to firstly give all the glory and honor to God for the opportunity he has given me,” he said during an interview with Samoa Observer.
“When I was young, I always wanted to represent Samoa in rugby and I now I have reached that goal.
“I started playing rugby in my college years; I represented my school Amoa in Savai’i and then I came to Leulumoega School where I continued to play rugby.”
For the young Manu, prayer is necessary for anyone that wants to succeed.
“I prayed constantly for the Lord to grant me strength and the right mindset to play rugby,” he said.
“I needed the Lord’s strength to make a career out of rugby because this was, and still is, my passion.
“Throughout my years I placed all my trust in the Lord because he is the source of all strength and knowledge.
“Everyone’s talents comes from him and without him, we cannot achieve anything.”
According to Malu, his family’s support was another key to his success.
“I want to give thanks to my family who supported me right throughout,” he said.
“My family sacrificed a lot for me especially my parents; they asked me if I wanted to pursue education or my passion for rugby.
“So with those choices given to me, I went with rugby and I put all my strength and heart into it; now I am where I am with the biggest honor any Samoan could ever wish for.”
But the young rugby star ran into a few speed bumps along the way.
“I ran into a few issues along the road to where I am now,” he said.
“An example was when I wanted to join the under 20’s a few years ago; I trained my heart out but I wasn’t selected and that hurt really bad.
“But my family helped soften the blow; my parents told me to stay strong and that this isn’t the end of my career, I have a whole future ahead of me and to just keep working hard.
“With my parents championing me on I continued to work hard and eventually I got into the under 20’s, and now I am here with the Manu.
“Their support did wonders for me and for that I am forever grateful.”
The constant support from everyone close to Malu has been a driving force for him as he aims to make sure everyone’s efforts to getting him to this level was not in vain.
“I want to thank my family and friends for the prayers and support they have shown me,” he said.
“I also want to thank my village for being behind me the whole time; lastly, I want to say thank you to my coach and the union for the opportunity they have given me to put on that blue jersey.
“I will repay them all by putting everything I have into making them and the people of Samoa proud.”
When asked for his training schedule, Malu said that he has a fixed amount of training every day but a little extra work is always good.
“I train for two hours every day,” he said.
“But what’s important is your individual initiative, if you know you can handle a little more training at home to get better then go for it.
“After I train here then I go and train with my rugby club, and in the morning I train before coming back to the union for more training to make exercises like fitness routines easier.
“You have to also watch your diet, take in what you need to take in and if you know something isn’t good for you then refrain from it.”
Malu concluded by emphasizing how important God is in the formula of success.
“I want to remind everyone that I did not get to where I am through my own strength, I am here through the grace of God and I am proud to say that,” he said.
“Never forget who the source of strength is in your life.”