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Last Updated: Friday, 26 September, 2003, 13:35 GMT 14:35 UK
Fanolua lives the Samoan dream
By Matt Majendie

Terry Fanolua
Fanolua had originally wanted to be an All Black
As a youngster Terry Fanolua had his heart set on becoming an All Black.

When he started playing the game, New Zealand ruled the sport and were the recent world champions and wing John Kirwan was the apple of a 12-year-old Fanolua's eye growing up in Auckland.

But the now 28-year-old's alliegance changed in an instant on 6 October 1991, Samoa's first ever World Cup match.

On that day Western Samoa, as they were then known, pulled off one of the biggest shocks in the tournament's history by beating Wales 16-13.

Fanolua told the BBC Sport website: "I loved the All Blacks when I was young and always watched them on television.

"But seeing Samoa beating Wales made me change. From then I decided to go for Samoa.

"The guys did really well. They put us on the map because, before then, we were just a little island in the Pacific. Interest from Samoan guys to play rugby was quite huge after that. Everyone wanted to wear that jersey."

1. Has played for Gloucester everywhere in the backs except scrum-half
2. His best try-scoring record in the Premiership is against Saracens - five tries in eight games
3. Once said, "I just ran by and planted one" after punching Llanelli's Chris Wyatt
4. Has represented Samoa at Sevens
5. Is revered by the Shed at Kingsholm

Fanolua will be among those wearing the jersey 12 years on at centre for the Samoans.

Born in Samoa, rugby was already in Fanolua's blood before he moved with his parents at the age of 10 to New Zealand in a bid to gain a better education.

The next four years at school were tough. He arrived in Auckland without a word of English, which led to hassle from his fellow school kids.

But Fanolua was big enough to look after himself and his impressive early displays on the rugby field helped his cause.

He progressed through all levels of Auckland rugby before finally moving to England and Gloucester, where he currently plies his trade.

The 2003 World Cup will be Fanolua's second as a player but financial shortages have limited his and Samoa's campaign preparations and the future looks bleak.

If there was a league set up over here I'm sure the national team would be strong
Terry Fanolua

Fanolua already has dreams of a benefactor to follow Roman Abrahamovich at Chelsea. "Doesn't everyone?" he said wishfully.

Such is the problem, the team will not meet up until a fortnight before the World Cup, with Fanolua running out for Gloucester in the Zurich Premiership before then.

Despite that Fanolua remains upbeat.

"If we sort out things off the field, I'm sure the Samoan team can do well," he added.

"There's a lot of talented Samoan men out there playing rugby. We just need a good set-up."

Fanolua's answer is a professional league in Samoa to match that in England.

"If there was a league set up I'm sure the national team would be strong," he said.

For the time being Fanolua is simply hoping for another Samoan upset.

Although he admits beating England and South Africa in Pool C is a mighty task, he also insists "there have been World Cup upsets before".

"We've done it before - against the Welsh twice over - and we'll always dream of doing it again," he concluded.

Links to more Samoa stories


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