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ABC News
ABC News
by Nick Campton in Manchester

Samoa's Chanel Harris-Tavita will go from the World Cup final into the great unknown

Samoa's Chanel Harris-Tavita is still working out what he's doing next year but he knows he's going to run out against Australia the World Cup final on Sunday (AEDT) at Old Trafford, and that's enough for now.

Harris-Tavita announced earlier this season that he would take a sabbatical from rugby league from the end of 2022.

The 23-year old is still putting together exactly what his life will look like without football, although he does have plans to travel and write.

He might come back to footy and he might not, and if he does come back it might be to the NRL or it might be somewhere else. His sporting future isn't set beyond this last game.

But if there was a way to finish and if there was one game that had to last you the rest of your life, taking on Australia at the Theatre of Dreams in your nation's first-ever World Cup final is about as much as anybody could ask for.

Each of Samoa's knockout matches, including their epic semifinal win over England, could have been Harris-Tavita's last game and now, for better or for worse, he's at the end of this part of his rugby league journey.

"It's not a bad way to get out. When I got picked in this team I was grateful I could play a few more games and I'm pretty happy to be playing one more," Harris-Tavita said.

"My favourite part of footy is bantering with the boys in the sheds during the week, getting a win like that in that close of a game [the semifinal], that's just the icing on the cake.

"I don't know how to describe it. We'd score, then they'd score, and it was all going for the last 10 minutes.

"We're lucky we have some big game players like Stephen Crichton and Jarome Luai, they stepped up and delivered."

Harris-Tavita, normally a half by trade, was pitched into the unfamiliar role of hooker after regular rake Nu Brown was concussed early in the first half.

But the former Warrior acquitted himself well, holding up under heavy defensive pressure and delivering a perfect pass for Crichton's match-winning field goal in extra time.

Harris-Tavita revealed Samoa only perfected the critical play in the final minutes of their last training session, barely 24 hours before they took the field in London for what turned out to be the finest moment in the nation's sporting history.

"We only practised that at captain's run. [Anthony] Milford is the main one, but he missed his first shot, and when we got the ball back Milford said we'd go to Critta," he said.

"I was like 'sweet' and when we got into good field position and got a quick play-the-ball I looked at Milford, saw Critta in the corner of my eye, went straight to him and he iced it. It was one of the best moments of my career. It'll be hard to top that.

"It was the last thing we did at training, it's crazy because that's what we needed to win the semifinal."

With Brown out of the final due to the World Cup's concussion protocol, Harris-Tavita will again be forced to deputise as hooker.

Samoa's squad has been stretched to it's limit after they lost a host of players to injury but Harris-Tavita believes he will be up to the task again, after making it through the semifinal.

"My shoulders were gone, my legs were gone. You don't get a rest like you do when you play on the edge and I was in the washing machine for most of the game," Harris-Tavita said.

"I was lucky I had some boys around me who came in and gave me a few sets off.

"Last week I played about seven minutes, so I wasn't really prepared to play big minutes but as soon as Nu went down I backed myself.

"I train pretty hard and I've jumped in [at hooker] couple of times at training, I was confident the boys would help me get through it and we ended up pulling through."

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