Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson has delivered a passionate message to the Samoan rugby league team which stands on the brink of history after making the World Cup final for the first time ever.
Their 27-26 victory over England in the semi-finals, who had battered them in the tournament opener to the tune of 60-6 just a month prior, propelled the Samoans to a grand final at the Theatre of Dreams this weekend.
Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson sends message to Samoa ahead of RLWC final
“I am delivering the message with boundless love and boundless reverence and respect and boundless pride for my boys, my Usos, the Toa Samoa,” Johnson said in an Instagram video.
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“This is a big deal. They are making history in the world of sports, in the world of rugby. This is the first time that our country, our culture, has ever gone to the final for any sport.”
“I could not be more proud of them, we could not be more proud of them.”
Stephen Crichton kicked the winning field goal in golden-point against the English, sparking wild celebrations from his teammates while condemning the host nation to yet another heartbreaking defeat.
Crichton was one of many players to pledge their allegiance to his country of heritage, as his Penrith teammates Brian To’o and Jarome Luai also did so after the trio starred together for New South Wales in this year’s State of Origin series.
“That was the idea when all the boys made the pledge to play for Samoa,” Crichton said. “We didn’t want to compete, we wanted to make it to the top.
“We’ve gone global, and it means a lot for our boys to do it for the motherland and the people of Samoa.”
Their incredible achievement even reaching Johnson who is a wrestling icon and now Hollywood mega-star.
A chance for Samoa to define their legacy at the RLWC
Johnson provided a pep talk for the squad as they prepare for battle with Australia, who will be aiming to claim a third consecutive World Cup title. The 50-year-old empathising with the feelings many of the Samoan team may be experiencing in the lead up to the final.
“There are a few things that I want to share with you guys, and I know you have got so much on your mind right now- pressure,” Johnson said.
“The pressure to deliver and the pressure to perform. You have the world watching and you have so much on your shoulders.
“Right now, you are proud grandsons, proud sons, proud husbands, proud fathers, proud teammates, proud brothers, proud usos.
“I understand what it’s like to have pressure, I understand what it’s like to do stuff where the world is watching. So, a few things I always think about when it comes to scenarios like this.
“Number one is grit, there’s a term that you guys know, it is called ‘Fa’a Samoa’ and when I was growing up my grandfather, my grandmother and even my mum, still today, we talk about grit.
“My grandfather always taught me that Fa’a Samoa is proud of where you come from, who you are, what’s in your blood and what’s in your DNA.
“That’s the thing that separates us from everyone else. It is the grit, the drive, that force that you operate as if your backs are up against the wall and there is nowhere to go but ahead.”
The Samoans, despite fielding a star-studded side featuring plenty of NRL talent, are the underdogs against the Kangaroos. Although Johnson was adamant they would be fighting for more than just the trophy- it was a chance to define themselves for future generations.
“History is watching but our ancestors are watching so when you take that field this Saturday in Manchester and you have that grit and your DNA is full of our Samoan pride and culture and you think about that legacy,” he said.
“You think about that legacy and the legacy you guys wanted to find because there’s two sides to legacy. Number one is the side you’ve already made history, you’ve arrived.
“But the other side of history, this is the special side, is when you take that field in Manchester, you leave it all out on the field and you win.
“Grit, legacy, my usos, I love you. We are all so proud of you, take that field and make history.”
Junior Paulo reacts after Samoa beat England
Samoa became only the sixth nation to qualify for a World Cup final and the first to break the monopoly of the traditional ‘big three’ of Australia, New Zealand and England in over three decades.
Speaking in the sheds after the momentous victory in their semi-final, captain Junior Paulo produced a rousing speech of his own.
“We’re all here because of the blessings and prayers that are going on around the world – Australia, Brisbane, you can name every city around the world,” he said.
“Every single Samoan around the world is going to be proud of what we achieved.
“Never forget the impact we have had on the world. Don’t forget the impact we have had on those people around the world who have never met us but have supported us right from the get-go.
“They have never forgotten about us and now we have one more week to enjoy everything together.”