Pita Godinet ready to confront Kiwi giants
As you watch the bruising collisions and big hits over the next few weeks of the Rugby League World Cup, spare a thought for Pita Godinet.
Michael Burgess of The NZ Herald writes that if Godinet is not the smallest player at the tournament, he must be close to it.
In an age where players get bigger and bigger - and even wingers resemble man mountains - Godinet keeps defying the odds.
The former Warriors No 9 barely tips the scales at 79kg and is only 1.72m tall, but will be in heart of the action tomorrow for Toa Samoa.
On Saturday he will be playing against Kiwis giant Nelson Asofa-Solomona (2m, 118 kg) and hulking New Zealand prop Martin Taupau (1.90m, 112kg).
Along side Godinet for Samoa will be Junior Paulo (187cm, 123kg) and captain Frank Pritchard (190cm, 115kg).
So how does he manage it, at hooker, among so many giants?
“I just stand next to one,” laughed Godinet.
“Nah, but mentally, I feel like I am the same size as Joseph Paulo or Josh Papallii. I go out there, play with my heart on my sleeve and I fear no man but God.
“It’s the mentality that I bring to the game. I just think about how I can help my team and I know that if there are big guys on their team I’ve got bigger guys beside me.”
Godinet was one of the key figures the last time Samoa were prominent on the world stage, in the 2014 Four Nations tournament.
He scored two tries as the Pacific team came close to upsetting England in Brisbane (losing 32-26), then was part of the memorable match in Whangarei, where the Samoa led the Kiwis until the 77th minute before going down 14-12.
“I still remember every moment of the last few minutes,” said Godinet.
“It was heartbreaking when we let that last try in; just the feeling that we could have beaten the Kiwis, the first ever Samoan team to do that. I was gutted because you never know when you would get another opportunity. That’s why I’ll be going 110 per cent this weekend, I don’t want any regrets.”
Godinet was a popular figure at the Warriors, but never cemented a first grade spot. He left at the end of the 2013 season, spending two years at Wakefield Trinity in the English Super League.
“We enjoyed every bit of it, especially getting to explore that side of the world,” said Godinet.
“The physical part was still the same, just a bit slower with one ref. The main thing was getting used to the fields out there. Like training in snow...it was fun at first but when you do it every day you get over it pretty quickly.”
He’s since returned to the NRL with Manly. He made two appearances for the Sea Eagles last year, but was confined to NSW Cup action in 2017.
Godinet admits it will be special to run out on Mt Smart tonight especially in the Samoan jersey.
“The Warriors gave me the break and it feels like not long ago I was with the Warriors,” said Godinet.
“My heart is probably still here at the Warriors and at Mt Smart. But it means everything to me to play for Samoa and we are so proud. We know we are not the owners of the jersey, just the caretakers of it.”