19 year old hooker Sama Malolo was cast aside by New South Wales and told he wasn’t good enough to make at the elite level just last year. Now, after five months in the Future Force Foundation and a strong season with the Road Safety Western Force U20s he is set to play for the BMW Australian U20s.
After a standout campaign in the Super U20s Championship Malolo was surprisingly left out of the Australian U20s squad for the initial training camp only to be added to squad following the conclusion of the camp with selectors realising their error.
The boisterous young hooker says the news came as a huge shock and the youngster is set to pull on the gold jersey for the first time in the Oceania Tournament next month with clashes against New Zealand, Samoa and Fiji.
“I was just focusing on using this season as a platform for next year,” he said.
“I wasn’t down on myself when I didn’t make the Australian Under 20s in the first place but when I found out that I was in it was just surreal.”
“First I was told that I was selected in the extended squad but not to expect to play, just more of an experience thing, but then I was told that I was named in the Oceania Tournament squad which was just nuts.”
The path to the national team has not been a smooth one for Malolo who was told just last year that he wouldn’t cut it at the state level for New South Wales.
“When I was in Sydney I transitioned from a prop to a hooker and played a whole season at hooker but when I went to trial for the NSW state team they wouldn’t let me trial as a hooker, I had to play prop.”
“After that I was told that I wasn’t wanted in the program at all, not part of the U19 squad or the U20 squad, just cut.
“From that moment on is just served as the biggest motivation for me. It was a gut-wrenching feeling, I felt like a didn’t get the chance to show my wares.”
The Wests Scarborough hooker has no doubt that he wouldn’t have reached this point if he hadn’t relocated to the West.
“If I had stayed in NSW I wouldn’t be getting the same opportunities. I honestly owe everything that has come my way so far to the Western Force, it sounds really cliché but its true the Force is the reason I’m here.”
“What makes me smile when I get up in the morning is that I’m representing WA,” he said with a smile.
“I’m not just representing my family but I’m representing rugby in Western Australia and with everything that is happening that is one of best things. I’ve learned pretty quickly how much passion there is for rugby here.”
Malolo credits the Future Force Foundation and the Western Force for putting the faith in him to reach the next level.
“The Future Force has helped me so much, they focus so much of your general skills and the fundamentals of playing rugby and this set up is something that they don’t really have anywhere else in Australia.”
“The Force are willing to invest in the younger players by putting them in full time program and help them to reach the next level. I think there are five guys from the Future Force that have played Super Rugby now, it just goes to show how good the program is for WA rugby.”
With training camp just days away Malolo is determined to make the most of the opportunity with sights set on the World Rugby Under 20 Championship to be held in Georgia in June.
“I go to camp on April 25th for a couple weeks and after that we will have trial games against New Zealand, Samoa and Fiji. From there they cut down to a 28-man squad to go to Georgia, so that’s the goal right now.”
“I’ve still got another year of U20s to go after this one but now that I’m in the mix I really want to grab this chance with both hands and make that World Cup squad.”