They might be two worlds apart in NRL experience but Dragons pair Mat Feagai and Francis Molo are just as eager as each other to make an impact on debut for Samoa against the Cook Islands on Saturday.
Samoa coach Matt Parish has named Feagai and Molo among the 20-man squad chosen for the June 25 Test at Campbelltown Sports Stadium.
Although he was born in New Zealand and raised in Leeton, NSW, flying winger Feagai will be prouder than any to be named in Parish’s final 17 and pull on the blue and white jersey after less than 18 games in first grade.
"Mum and dad and my older siblings were born in Samoa, then they moved to New Zealand where two of my brothers and I were born before we moved here. I’m one of seven kids," Feagai told NRL.com
"I’ve got plenty of family back there, grandma's there and we love to visit. I was actually planning to go this year when the World Cup was on but now I’m hoping to make that team."
For the 21-year-old, who has scored four tries for the Dragons this year, playing for his parents’ country of birth is the “next box to tick” in his aspiring rugby league career.
“Not too long ago someone asked me what my dream was and obviously I want to play for Australia, it’s the best of the best, but there were a few boxes I wanted to tick before that and one of them was playing for Samoa,” Feagai said.
“When I woke up and read the team, the first thing I did was call Mum and Dad, they were over the moon. Mum was actually crying, and Dad was also really proud.
“I know I’m only in the squad so I’m not sure if I’ll be playing yet, but it means a lot to be a part of it.
“I’ve heard a bit about what camp is like and mainly I’m excited to be surrounded by the players and a part of the culture.”
Alongside Feagai will be Molo, who coincidentally played his last Test match with the upcoming rivals – the Cook Islands in 2016 - he will also be looking to earn his maiden blue and white jersey.
“I’m looking forward to having a run with the Samoan side in camp. It’s my first heritage and I’ve always wanted to wear that jersey so I’m looking forward to it,” Molo told NRL.com.
“I’ve got a long line of family there on both Mum and Dad’s side. I’ve never been there before but I’m hoping one day I can take my little kids and show them around.”
With Penrith stars Izack Tago, Taylan May, Charlie Staines and Spencer Leniu among the line-up of stars featuring in the Toa Samoa squad, the in-form 27-year-old is excited to be a part of this year’s campaign.
“I just want to take it all in, enjoy every day and learn a bit about my culture,” he said.
“I’m excited to be playing with a good bunch of boys and learn a thing or two off some experienced and well-known names.”