Pride in family and country

By Sarafina Sanerivi 08 June 2016, 12:00AM

D’Angelo Leuila is one of the new names for the Manu Samoa squad preparing for Georgia this coming Saturday.

Although we have until Thursday to find out who will be in the final list of players for Manu Samoa, D’Angelo Leuila said he is humbled by the opportunity to represent Samoa. 

“I am excited and happy to be here in Samoa,” he said. 

“I didn’t expect to come this far with my game but I am thrilled for the opportunity to play for the Manu Samoa.” 

D’Angelo Leuila, who was born and raised in New Zealand, is the son of Lutia and Sepelini Sope from the villages of Fagali’i and Gataivai.

He started playing rugby when he was 7-years-old. His grandfather, late Isaia Leuila was the one who pushed him to play rugby and encouraged him to work hard. 

“My grandfather loved rugby and when I was young, he would always take me to my rugby trainings and he used to also join me on the field and push me to keep running and to do my best.”

And now, the 19-year-old is making a career out of the game him and his grandfather both love.  

“My grandfather wasn’t a professional rugby player, but he believed in me. When he passed away last year, it was a tough time for me and my family, but I am now living the dream we both shared and I hope he is proud of person I have become.”

For someone who is just starting with his rugby career, Mr. Leuila has already caught the attention of national selectors. 

He has been a regular feature in Auckland representatives’ teams since he started playing rugby. 

He made his name known in Auckland after playing for the Papatoetoe High School 1st XV, playing at both first five-eighths and fullback, and he has been a regular feature in Auckland representative teams since he started playing professional rugby.

Papatoetoe’s young and talented player who played for the U19 A from Papatoetoe last year won the award for the ‘Top Premier Points Scorer’ during the Auckland Rugby Union season last year. 

While in Samoa, D’Angelo is looking at learning more about the game from some of the old rugby players in the team and also from the coach.

“This is an opportunity for me to learn from my older brothers who have been playing professional rugby longer than me,” he said. 

“Like I said, I am excited to be here and to be with the other boys. This is a good experience for me, and everything about this selection has made me so grateful to God for all his blessings and for bringing me this far.”

Trainings and preparations for the test match against Georgia has been going very well, said Mr. Leuila. 

“Trainings are very focused and everyone are putting in their hundred percent into our preparations and everything off the field are very professional as well.”

Mr. Leuila admits that he cannot be compared to the other rugby players who are older than him. 

“They are more experienced and are way bigger than me,” he said. 

“But I will do my best and learn as much as I could from them, I believe that they will help me so much in so many ways.”

Aside from trainings, Mr. Leuila said he’s been working really hard on getting his nutrition right at the same time. 

As for the game on Saturday, Mr. Leuila said he is positive about the game. 

“I’ve seen a lot of great potential in our team,” he said. “We are all in it with the same passion and attitude, not only for the game but also for our country. Even though we all come from different countries and we all play in different clubs, we are all here to represent our country, our families and our people. And especially that we are going to play in front of our nation. That is a lot of pressure on us, but at the same time, it pushes us to bring out the best in ourselves to satisfy our audience. It’s going to be a great game and I am looking forward to it.” 

By Sarafina Sanerivi 08 June 2016, 12:00AM

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