Stanley ready to represent
Being born with a gift is sometimes not enough.
For some people, help and support from family can mean the difference between moving forward and remaining the same.
For Winston Stanley; family is his driving force with his career in rugby.
The 27 year old from the village of Vaigaga was recently selected by Namulauulu Alama Ieremia to be part of his Manu Samoa squad in the upcoming test matches a little over a week away.
Harboring an impressive rugby career with New Zealand teams such as the U20’s Development squad, Blues, Highlanders and the English Harlequins club despite being Australian born, nothing gave him more honor than to play for his home team, the Manu Samoa.
But let’s go way back to the beginning where it all started for Winston. “I grew up playing rugby,” he said during an interview with Samoa Observer.
“I was born in Australia, so I sort of started playing rugby league when I was five and from then on I have been playing rugby all my life so it’s been 22 years now.”
If his own personal career with notable teams wasn’t impressive enough, he is also part of a long line of Stanleys who also play for well known teams. “All my uncles and big brother played rugby,” he said.
“It was just sort of something that I was pushed into playing and then obviously the chance to make a living out of it was pretty great.”
According to Winston, nothing means more to him than to be with his home team because even if he has been with other great squads, his heart remains in Samoa.
“Being selected into the Manu Samoa means the world to my family and me,” he said.
“Being able to wear that blue jersey leaves me speechless; hopefully I’ll be able to make everyone proud in the upcoming test matches. “I have always had my families support and it’s really important to me that they’ve been there for me, especially my mother and brother; just having someone to talk about my game and to pass and kick the ball with is priceless to me.
“My grandmother passed away before I made my debut the first time in 2014 (France); she always supported me so this means a lot to me because she means a lot to me.
“When she was around she would always encourage us to push ourselves and to try things; she was the one who initially pushed me to make contact with Samoa and to let them know that I was keen to play.
“Although I was born in Australia and raised in New Zealand, I am still proud of my Samoan roots and to be able to represent Samoa is everything.”
With Winston being an inspiration to many young Samoans out there, he too has his own set of heroes.
“I have always looked up to the All Black Conrad Smith as sort of the player that I would like to be like one day,” he said.
“He’s probably my favorite inspirational player, I like that he does the basic things really well and he keeps the backline together.
“He’s the glue that keeps everyone together and I would like to be the glue for my own teams.”
Winston left one last message for those who look up to him.
“If you are passionate about something it’s really important not to give up,” he said.
“If you don’t make it into certain teams growing up then keep going; I have seen some guys who were cast aside earlier on and then later down the track they come through and achieve things. “It’s never over as long as you work and train hard.”