Snowboards to suitcases: Pele Cowley’s last minute World Cup journey

Manu Samoa halfback, Pele Cowley, was more than ready to cut his family skiing trip short when he got called in to the Rugby World Cup squad.

The 26-year-old halfback from the village of Vaigaga was called into the Manu Samoa to replace Scott Malolua, who suffered a dislocated shoulder during the Wallabies test last Saturday.

Speaking to the Observer Sports in Iwaki Japan where the team is preparing for the World Cup, Cowley said he got a text on Sunday morning from Manu Samoa head coach, Vaeluaga Steve Jackson, telling him to expect a call after lunch with an update on Malolua.

“I had my phone on me the whole day, just sorta waiting, didn’t really know what was gonna happen,” he said.

Cowley was on Mt. Ruapehu in New Zealand at the time having gone skiing:

“Jacko was asking me, what are you up to? He says well you’re not going to be skiing today are you… because you’re on the plane.”

Cowley said his emotions were mixed:

“I sort of didn’t know how to feel because Scotty’s a good mate of mine.”

He said it was just an unfortunate, freakish accident for his fellow halfback:

“I’ve known Scotty since I was about 11," he said.

“We played club rugby together as juniors, Scotty was halfback and I was the first five.”

Cowley said he definitely empathises with his old high-school teammate, as a similar injury ruled him out of the last World Cup in 2015.

“I was pretty gutted [back then], but you can’t control these things, it can happen to anyone,” he said.

Cowley was part of the Manu’s Pacific Nations Cup squad, but initially missed out on selection for the World Cup and Samoa’s two warm-up games against the New Zealand Heartland XV and Australia.

After missing the cut, he went back to work as an apprentice builder.

“Whenever I’m off-contract, I sort of just go back into that and chip away at it,” Cowley said.

“Because you never know with injuries.

“Having a good career with building behind rugby, to me it was a win-win, if I missed out on World Cup.”

Cowley said he is embracing every moment in Japan:

“I’m still just pinching myself that I’m here.

“Only a couple days ago I was swinging a hammer at work.”

He said the fact he was part of the team didn’t sink in until the morning of day two in Japan:

“We said our loku, and we sang our songs.”

Cowley said it was then that he realised what he was apart of being together with everyone, and he feels pretty lucky to be at the Rugby World Cup with the Manu Samoa.

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