Petelo’s meteoric rise
When growing up in a Samoan family, you instantly inherit that contagious patriotism every time you see our rugby team on television.
While sitting there watching our mighty boys in blue, it’s hard not to day-dream and picture yourself on the receiving end of all the screaming fans.
For some, that dream actually becomes a reality and yes… according to them it is as good as they thought it would be.
For Isaia Petelo from the village of Vaigaga, it was not only a dream of his to one day become part of the Manu, but it was also a dream his Grandfather had.
His grandfather has always wished to see one of his grandchildren wearing that blue jersey; and he may soon get that chance.
But what sort of life style leads to a dream like this coming true?
“When I was about five years old my uncle and dad would take me to my games and from there on I started to play rugby,” Isaia told Samoa Observer.
“I started with Touch rugby and then on to Contact rugby later on; since then I just grew into it.
I played for Marist Saint Pats which is in Wellington, after that I played for their first 15; after college, I played for a few clubs before moving and playing in France, Ireland and Australia; not top divisions but I played club rugby there.
“This year I played for the Samoa A and now I am here in the main team.”
According to Isaia, watching the legendary men of rugby was the trigger to him setting that blue jersey goal.
“I used to watch the legends closely like Semo, Alama, Jonah and Ma’a; they just made me want to achieve my goals,” he said.
“Making the Manu was my long time goal that I have been working really long to achieve.”
It is one thing to dream something, but according to Isaia, actually achieving it is such a special feeling.
“Being part of the Manu is just crazy,” he said.
“Till this day I am still stoked and shocked; I never thought this day would come but all honor and glory must return to the man above.
“I guess it’s his plan for me to be here right now.”
Being an inspiration to many people, Isaia admits that he has his own set of inspirational athletes that he looks up to.
“I have always looked up to Ma’a Nonu,” he said.
“I play the same position as him but the way he works it is just different, he takes the game to the next level, he is one of my idols.
“Matt Giteau is also a big inspiration, he is stocky and he plays really well; just like Ma’a, he also takes the game to a whole new level.
“I can’t say I can be like him but I can try and come close to his level.”
For someone to make it into a national team is a moment to proud of for any family in Samoa and according to Isaia, there is no one prouder than his grandfather.
“My family is super proud of me,” he said.
“I’m just happy to be here and make my grand dad happy and to make his dream come true as well. He has always wanted one of his grand kids to be on Samoa’s top side.
“I have been getting so much support from family, especially from my partner.
“My little cousins are my inspirations; I always try and use myself as a target placer for them to aim for.
“I started from the bottom and now I am here and hope they also work hard and become a Manu Samoa player one day too.”
But make it into the selection or not, Isaia is just happy to be back home after a very long time.
“I am happy to be here in Samoa,” he said.
“I haven’t been here since 2000, so it’s been a while since I have been home.
“It’s good to meet the new boys and the also the legends, it’s a humbling feeling to learn from those who have been part of the Manu for a while now.
“It’s good to get some experience and to hopefully get my first test cap.
“For those future rugby stars in Samoa I have nothing much to say but to train hard and go to school,” he said.
“Respect your parents well because if you respect them, then you will come a long way.
“Go to church and pray because God answers prayers and everything happens in his good time.”