Iconic movie star Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson sent a message of encouragement to the Samoan Rugby league team ahead of their Rugby League World Cup final against Australia. The side booked their place in the final by securing a dramatic 27-26 victory over England in the last four.
The former WWE superstar, who is of Samoan heritage, took to Instagram to share a video expressing his pride in the Samoan team. They not only reached their first ever Rugby League World Cup final, but the 50-year-old stated this is the first time Samoa had reached the final of any major sporting event, and went on to deliver a rousing speech to further motivate the team he described as his “usos”, meaning brother in Samoan.
"I am delivering the message with boundless love and boundless reverence and respect and boundless pride for my boys, my Usos, the Toa Samoa," he said in a video to his 348 million Instagram followers. "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 sparked huge celebrations after scoring the winning golden point drop goal in the semi-final to stun England on home soil and reach the championship match. Samoa will face the mighty Australia who will no doubt be the heavy favourites as they seek to win the title for the 12th time. Johnson said Samoa had the chance to define their legacy this weekend and urged them to embrace the pressure of the momentous occasion.
"I understand what it's like to have pressure," he said. "There's a few things I always think about. Number one is grit ... there's a term Fa'a Samoa. My grandfather always taught me that Fa'a Samoa is proud of where you come from, who you are, what's in your blood, what's in your DNA. That's the thing that separates us from everyone else but it also means grit."
He added: "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. There's two sides to legacy, number one is the side that you've already made history.
"The other side to legacy, and this is the special side, is when you take that field in Manchester, you leave it all out on the field. Grit, legacy, my Usos, I love you, I'm so proud of you."
A population of just over 200,000 in Samoa will come to another standstill this weekend if Matt Parish’s men go on to make more history on Saturday.
Crichton, who broke English hearts at the Emirates Stadium, says the Samoan players are acutely aware of the huge interest generated world-wide.
“It’s gone global,” he said. “It means a lot to all the boys in the squad and it means a lot for our motherland and the people of Samoa. We’ve seen all the videos that’s come out from it and how pride they all are. Flags are being sold out everywhere, it’s pretty crazy.”