Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Canadian Sevens Player Mike Fuailefau Draws on Father's Samoan Roots

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Canadian Sevens Player Mike Fuailefau Draws on Father's Samoan Roots

Article excerpt

Canadian sevens player draws on Samoan roots


Chosen for both Canada's 15-man team for the IRB Americas Rugby Championship and the opening stop of the HSBC Sevens World Series, Mike Fuailefau's future looks bright.

The 20-year-old from Victoria finds himself in Australia this week after Rugby Canada decided his priority was the sevens team.

For Fuailefau (pronounced Foo-lee-Fow), these are heady times as he prepares to pull on a Canadian jersey for the first time at the senior level.

He and his teammates were watching an All Blacks game this week when a message on the ticker at the bottom of the screen Down Under teased the Gold Coast Sevens.

"I got pretty excited seeing the tournament I was playing in was playing on a major game like that," he said from his Brisbane-area hotel.

"There's a good buzz," he added.

The six-foot-one, 220-pound Fuailefau has rugby in his blood. His father Joe played inside centre for Samoa "a long time ago, way back," according to Mike.

His father met his Canadian mother while both were doing missionary work and eventually moved to Canada.

While Mike does not have Samoan citizenship -- he could get it if he applied -- he says his father has instilled in him the pride and ethos of the Pacific Islanders' approach to rugby.

Fuailefau Jr. is slated to visit Samoa this Christmas for the first time to meet family. He also has relatives on the Gold Coast.

On the rugby field, he enjoys both the seven and 15-man versions of the game.

"I love playing both," he said. "This is really my first sevens experience with a team of this calibre, so this is a great experience for me.

"But most of the rugby I've played is 15s. I'll always love 15s."

A centre like his father in the 15-man game, he plays forwards in sevens.

Other youngsters on the Canadian squad are 18-year-old Justin Douglas and Lucas Hammond. Fuailefau and Hammond played on the national under-20 team together.

Veterans include captain Nanyak Dala, Phil Mack, Ciaran Hearn and Chauncey O'Toole.

Canada, restored as a core member on the nine-stop sevens circuit, opens play Saturday in a pool with defending champion New Zealand, 2008-09 series winner South Africa and the U. …

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