The Manu Samoa team heard from a rugby icon yesterday as they prepare themselves for Germany at the Apia Park this Saturday.
Rugby legend, former Manu Samoa player and coach, Sir La’auli Savae Michael Jones, encouraged the team during a special session at Tuana’imato where former Manu Samoa players turned up to show their support.
Sir Michael was joined by other rugby greats including Fesolai Vaaiga Tuigamala, Muliagatele Brian Lima, Filipo Saena, Loau Keneti Sio, Mahonri Schwalger, Matafeo George Latu, Galumalemana George Stowers and a few others.
Amidst a storm of criticisms over the team’s recent form, Sir Michael urged Captain Chris Vui and his men not to lose their focus.
“We play for our faith, our country and family like no one else. It is so important to us. Go to that place where your heart is going to carry you to, places that you have never been to before,” Sir Michael said.
“Something that we have that is better than those guys that jumped on the plane is that we have a heart that is bigger than theirs. I am encouraging you to bring that on Saturday and I know you will.”
The session with the former Manu Samoa players was meant to encourage the team.
“It means so much to us, particularly these men who shed tears, spilt and poured blood for this jersey over many years, going back. Who have been around 100 years - Samoan Rugby, these men have been in the forefront of that.
“To us, you are our little brothers. I know you understand that we are part of big club. When you put on that blue jersey, the one time that I was privileged to play in 1986, that once you are part of this club you will always be part of the brotherhood.”
Sir Michael shared that though times have changed, the brotherly love they have for one another and for Samoa is very much alive.
“We see in you so much of us and we hope that you see in us yourselves. So we have this wonderful bond and connection that is very powerful, which is why we are here.
“The wonderful aspect of being part of this club is that there is a legacy, there is a heritage and there is a history. The same pride that these men all wore with that jersey and nothing has changed.”
The mistakes of the past would never determine the future and Laauli knows this well.
“I was just thinking as I was driving up here is that we have been in this situation before, each and every one of us who has been a rugby player, an athlete and there are times when you are on a mountain top when you are high up there and everything is good, everything is great. But there are times when we will be in a valley.
“You can be in a dark valley and a deep valley and please know that each and every one of us has been there. This is not new.
“I just want to say that where you are now is not a bad thing, when you are in these places; it is one of the greatest moments of your life. Why? This is where men encounter their forge, this is where you get to rebuilt you inner being or your core.”
Laauli stated the Manu Samoa boys are on a journey, and they may not see success now and Saturday is the time to turn the situation around with Germany.
“In these places there is only one way you can go, you can climb and the light would only get brighter this destiny for us it’s your defining moment. As individuals you may have been here 10 years and some have been here two weeks. This week is your defining moment.
“Yes it has been a tough road but reality is we can see that you are building; you are growing every day, everything that has been planned out as part of your management. There is a bigger picture.
“Our prayer and our heart today are to simply encourage you that your destiny is your hands right now. It is not in your coaches or parents hand or our hands or the union hands.”
Real men get together to fight the odds in the right heart, spirit and mind, Laauli said.
“That is when real men step up as they say, real Manu men take this opportunity and they head up together. Right mind, right heart and the right spirit and they start heading up. They only look forward.
“They worry about last week or two weeks ago. We are only measured at the World Cup. You are on a journey to something bigger and greater. It is all about where you are heading. It starts this week.
“As an athlete and a player, which has allowed a lot of us to do what we do, that is to do the little things well, you are going to have a lot of things that you naturally have, but I encourage you to focus on those little things.
“The difference between good and great is that when you are faithful to the little things you would be given the big things. We care and we love you guys. We are 110 percent and so as the nation behind you guys. Be encouraged and God bless you guys.”