Sea Eagles forward Jesse Sene-Lefao has continued his rise in 2014 after being a late call up to the Toa Samoa side for the upcoming Four Nations tournament.
So late was the smiling Samoan’s call, that it actually put a halt to his ‘bucks’ celebrations, with the 24-year-old forward due to marry his partner Estelle this weekend in Sydney.
“When the team came out last Tuesday, I found out it that I didn’t make it. So the boys organised the bucks for Thursday, Friday, Saturday,” Sene-Lefao said.
“We were out on Thursday and I found out at 11oclock at night that I was called into the squad and I needed to catch a plane on the Friday afternoon. So I told the boys and then I had 19 boys partying for me just before the entrance. I got on the plane while they were partying for me,” he said with a laugh.
For the distinctively proud Samoan, the lack of preparation and training kit when he arrived was nothing compared to what it meant for him to simply be back in his native homeland, seeing his family and friends.
“I got the chance to go back there on White Sunday which is a big day for the kids at church and I got to see my grandma and all dad’s brothers and sisters.
“The way they live is totally different. It’s an eye opening experience to see how they live and the way we live, we are really fortunate to have all the facilities and the stuff they don’t have.”
The energetic, fun-loving forward is humbled to be a part of Toa Samoa. The chance to give back while doing something you love is a clearly humbling experience for Sene-Lefao.
“There’s a lot behind being Samoan,” he said.
“We’re representing a country that has low self-esteem and belief of making professional sports teams. So when we go to schools our message is to keep them on the toes and striving for the best.”
“They ask questions about how we made it and we tell them it wasn’t easy. That we didn’t just go straight to the top and play for Samoa, it starts back at school.”
“You’ve got to listen and set goals for yourself. You’ve got to push yourself to the limit and then if you tick all the boxes that you can control, then you will get your goal at the end.”
What about his goals? His boxes that need to be ticked?
“My goal is to make the 17 each week. I hope I get an opportunity and I’m going to take the opportunity with open arms and also if I do get in there I want to make a difference and represent my family and my culture.”
“There’s a lot of people here that are going to support us and I know we’ve got a lot of support everywhere.”
There is no question Toa Samoa are feeling the love at home and having a wonderful time, but can they turn that emotion in to results when they face England at Suncorp in just over a weeks time?
Sene-Lefao certainly thinks so.
“We’ve been doubted a lot, [but] as a team we want to win,” he said.
“We want to prove to everyone we are not just a trial match, we’re actually going to give it a go and that’s what I’m excited about.”
“We’re looking good, we’re sharp, we’re tight, we’re like a family. We are playing with our brothers.”