He once idolised players like Tusi Pisi and Kahn Fotuali’i.
Soon Samoan born Queensland Reds midfielder Henry Taefu will kit out in blue and run out to play with them in the Manu Samoa team.
Taefu is one of eight new players named by Coach Namulauulu Alama Ieremia yesterday for June and July internationals. The fixtures include a test match against the All Blacks and the much-anticipated clash with Wales at Apia Park.
For Taefu, those games are a while away.
His focus is firmly on the Reds Super Rugby clash with the Auckland Blues at Apia Park on Friday night. It is the first Super Rugby game in Samoa and the first under the lights.
Yesterday at the Reds training at Pesega, it was hard to hide Taefu’s excitement.
The son of Ramuta Ai’i and Sagele Taefu, of Samatau and Si’ufaga, Falelatai, Taefu said he is thrilled to have been selected.
“Me and my family found out two weeks ago,” he told the Samoa Observer.
“I am excited as my family, especially my Falelatai family... it’s a very exciting time for my family.”
At the age of 12, Taefu moved to Brisbane with his family where he spent two years at Anglican Church Grammar School.
By the time he was 16, the talented centre secured a scholarship and this is where his rugby career began.
“When you live overseas for quite a long time you regard yourself as a Samoan-Australian but Samoa is always home.
“To be able to represent your home country, it’s always a privilege.”
Taefu joined the Reds' Senior squad following an impressive season for Brisbane City in the 2015 National Rugby Championship.
He told Samoa Observer he cannot wait to play alongside Tusi Pisi and Fotuali’i.
“It’s exciting and I can’t wait to get out there and play especially in New Zealand and in Samoa.”
Despite being away for so long, Taefu is still that little boy from Si’ufaga at heart and can’t wait to go back to “kua.” He said he will visit his family at Siufaga and Samatau this week.
“When I was in school, we played rugby after school with my classmates and my cousins. So I came with some rugby gear I want to give to the kids from village,” he said.
“Half of my luggage is all rugby gear some of which is my old gear and I want to give it to the school for the upcoming rugby players in my village.”
Manu Samoa coach, Namualuulu is happy with his selection.
“Samoa Rugby has been going through a period of healthy change, and we believe we’ve picked a solid squad for the upcoming season,” he said.
“We kick off our campaign as we did two years ago, with the opportunity of a lifetime to play against the World Champion All Blacks. Then we play Wales in Apia plus our World Cup qualification test matches against our brothers from Tonga and Fiji.
“While Apia Park will always be our true home ground, the fact that we are playing at Eden Park signals an opportunity to call that ground, our home away from home with all our supporters and families in Auckland and NZ.
“We have a huge international season ahead of us, and like other Pacific nations we have to manage the fact our talent comes from all around the world.
“Unfortunately some talented players were not available this season because of injury, but it has also given us the opportunity to blood in new talent. (More in Sports)
ABOUT HENRY TAEFU
According to the Reds website, Taefu has played for the National Gold Squad, Parramatta Eels U20s (2011-2012), Australian Academy (2013) QLD Schoolboys, Australia U20s, Greater Sydney Rams NRC team, Sunnybank Dragons Premier Grade.
In 2013, Taefu represented Australia in the Under 20s squad and, in 2014 featured in the Sunnybank Dragons team in the Premier Rugby Grand Final match.
After featuring in half of the games for the Sunnybank Dragons in the 2015 Premier Rugby season and ending the season as fifth highest point scorer for the team, Taefu earned selection in the Brisbane City squad, exhibiting versatility and kicking ability.