Tusitala puts his hand up
As we draw closer to the big match against Georgia this weekend our boys are doing their best to impress the selection coaches for a spot in the finalized team.
With every pass, catch, tackle and step; there is no more room for mistakes.
It’s all or nothing for our boys and everyone is picking up their game and aiming to impress.
But for our small half-back from the villages of Elise-Fou and Fasitoo-Tai, his whole life has been dedicated to get to this very moment and nothing will stand in his way.
Danny Tusitala is no stranger to the Manu Samoa rugby scene as he was recently a sevens rep.
But where did it all start for Danny?
“As a kid growing up in Auckland I guess rugby was something that all the boys were interested in,” he said during an interview with Samoa Observer.
“I have been playing rugby ever since I was seven and ever since I picked up that ball I have never wanted to put it down and now I’m here now still playing.
“I started playing for a club when I was a kid and I was a bit bigger than I am now which is why I started playing as a forward.
“As I grew up I started to make my way to the backs and I went through the grades.
“When I got to high school I decided that I would take rugby a little more seriously and went and joined a few rep teams.
“I played first 15 in school, a lot of people grew bigger than me so I moved over to the half back position and ever since then I stayed the same size.
“I left high school and went overseas for a gap year and just to get out of New Zealand,
“When I returned, I continued playing club rugby in Auckland and I have grown up playing rugby and it was great for me.
“Now that I am here I hope to play alongside some club members and family.”
According to Danny, there is nothing better than to be part of our Manu team.
“It’s a real honor to be part of the Manu Samoa,” he said.
“There’s no greater feeling then to represent where you’re from; I had that feeling when I got into the sevens and I have it again now.
“If I could describe how it feels then I would, but it’s just indescribable.”
With his family being behind him all the way, Mr. Tustala feels their encouragement helps push him when he feels like he cannot take another step.
“My family is really proud of me,” he said.
“Honestly any Samoa family would be really proud of their children represent their country in anything.
“My family has always been there every step of the way; whether I went through my highs or lows they have always had my back.
“They encouraged me so much and when I made the Samoa sevens I made sure to try and make them proud; every time I put on that jersey it was for them.
“I made sure to always do my best because I was carrying the name of the family.”
“Apart from my family, I also gain inspiration from my rugby player friends like Tim.
“He has always looked after me throughout my rugby career, I have a few other famous players from other countries that influence me but my friends who help me are my main inspirations.”
As for those who look up to him, Danny has a clear cut message for them.
“Never give,” he said.
“When things get tough then just remember why you started playing the sport in the first place, nowadays many people forget why they started which makes it hard to recover when you’re low.
“For me, when I hit a low I just remember why I picked up that rugby ball and then it keeps me going.”
Being back in the country has also been a sort of relief for the young Manu rep after leaving for six weeks following his leave from the Manu sevens.
“It feels good to be back,” he said.
“I was here for eight months during the sevens and then I went back; but it feel great to be back in the hot sun; It’s all refreshing and I love it.”