Family, passion and blue jersey
Not many people will experience that one call saying they have been selected to represent the Manu Samoa. Seilala Lam did and he says it has been the highlight call of his career.
The 27 year old from the villages of Gataivai, Taga and Malie has been given one of the greatest honors in Samoa and that is to put on the highly sought after blue jersey.
With his main position being a hooker, Seilala has played his way through the ranks landing a professional contract in France just last year.
But according to the Manu player, even playing in France does not compare to representing his country in the sport he loves most.
Being in the shadow of his rugby star brother Jack Lam all his life; rather than being envious, Seilala used his brother’s success to be an inspirational factor in his own rugby career.
“One of my main inspirations was my older brother,” he said during an interview with Samoa Observer.
“He played a lot of rugby growing up and I have been following him ever since.
“I don’t really remember my younger days but what I do remember is that I had to play two years up with my brother because we only had one car and my dad had to just take us to that one game.
“I was born in New Zealand but I was raised in Australia and I played most of my rugby there. “I was fortunate to get a position in the Australian School Boys there and I played in the Australian 20’s, I have also been in a few of the franchises in Australia.
“Last year I finally moved to France where I play professionally which has been a huge boost in my career.”
Just like many other athletes, with Seilala’s family supporting him all the way, there is nothing he can’t achieve.
“My family has supported me a lot in my career through the little things,” he said.
“My dad and mom did so much for me and my brothers careers in rugby; they took us where we needed to be even though we didn’t have much growing up.
“They just tried to do what they could to just get us to our games; there’s one really great story about my brother which highlights the sort of support my parents gave us.
“He made it into this Australian team and while he was going to Sydney for a game his bag was held back by the flight.
“It’s a three hour drive from where we live to Sydney; my Dad drove all the way to where my brother was just to drop off his bag; up until now my brother doesn’t know that.
“That’s the sort of parents we had growing up, they would do so much for us and sometimes we won’t even know about it.”
With Seilala being in a family of rugby players, he never saw the need to look at others for inspiration; all the inspiration he ever needed was right within his family.
“The players that inspire me the most are probably my family members who have been through the ranks,” he said.
“My older brother was supposed to play with me here in Samoa but he was injured on Thursday; my biggest goal is to one day be on the same field with him wearing the same jersey.
“My other goal is to represent my country and family.”
As for his recent achievement of being selected by Namulauulu Alama Ieremia to represent the Manu Samoa in the upcoming test matches, Seilala says that nothing has felt greater.
“Words cannot express how I feel to be able to represent the Manu Samoa,” he said.
“I still don’t believe it up until now; I feel like I’m just one of the numbers but it’s starting to become a bit more real to me than it was before. “When I got the call I was crying on the phone and then just telling my parents was probably the best part of my career.
“But this is just the beginning so I have a lot of work to do.”
As for the younger generation of rugby players who share the same goal of representing the Manu one day, Seilala has a clear cut message for them.
“Set your goals and go for it,” he said.
“Keep grinding and working and don’t hold back; There are no excuses, I was one of those guys who left all the excuses in front of me, but now it’s all behind me.
Aside from making it into the Manu Samoa squad; just being in the country is an achievement in itself for Seilala.
“I love being back in Samoa,” he said.
“There’s truly no place like home; it just humbles you, this is the real world for me.
“All the stories that my parents have told me and with me being back to see it for myself is a massive achievement.”