The Pacific Movement
Albert Einstein once said, "Nothing happens until something moves." Today, those words still hold.
In the previous World Cup, another Pacific island took on the Giants of Rugby League, Mate Ma'a Tonga, which beat NZ in the quarters and Lebonan before falling to England in the Semi-Finals.
The success of the Mate Ma'a Tonga 2017 RLWC campaign can be credited mainly to the NRL star players with Tongan heritage opting to play for Tonga instead of Australia and New Zealand.
Former centre for the Parramatta Eels and Tongan and Australian, Michael Jennings, told Athletes Voice:
"Playing for the Kangaroos is the pinnacle in rugby league. If you make that team, you're up there with the best in the World in your position... But it's a very different feeling playing for Tonga. There's more emotion in the Tongan jersey. You know what your family has been through and think about them every time you put it on."
Tonga may have lost in the semi-finals that evening in 2017. but the heroic actions of those star players playing for Tonga would leave a legacy that would inspire their Pacific neighbours, Samoa, to do the same.
The Toa Samoa
The 2021 Rugby League World Cup was Samoa's turn to take it to another level, and they did just that.
Like Tonga, Samoa has produced some of the best iconic players to have touched a rugby ball. The stars aligned for Samoa when Penrith players Stephen Crichton, Brian To'o, Jarome Luai, Spencer Leniu, Izack Tago & Taylan May, put up their hands to represent their country of origin. These players were added to a star-studded team, including Queensland prop Josh Papali'i, Manly duo Josh Aloiai and Martin Taupau, and NSW wrecking ball Junior Paulo.
Samoa's journey into the Grand final was not easy for the small island nation, as they had a tally of injuries that saw the likes of Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow, Tyrone May, Braden Hamlin-Uele, Josh Aloiai, Izack Tago and Brown show support from the sideline and on the night injury to Chanel Tavita.
Samoa would lose to Australia 30 - 10 and become the first Tier 2 and Pacific nation to play in the Grand-finals of a Rugby League World Cup.
In the last week, we have seen parades of vehicles, people, animals, boats and trolleys armed with the blue and red colours of the Samoa national flag take to the streets and even the ocean.
The Rock, the biggest name in Hollywood and probably the World, threw his support behind Toa Samoa; superstars from almost every sport can be seen on Social Media wishing the boys in blue all the success.
Tongan, Niuean, Fiji, PNG, Cook Island and Kiribati were amongst the support train for the boys as Samoa was not just representing themselves...they were representing the Pacific.
Australia may have won their 12th World Cup title, but Samoa has won the World...the movement is far from over!