Pacific Championships 2023: Australia Vs Samoa, Emotional Samoan anthem Star’s tears melt hearts, Connolly Lemuelu

State of Origin may be the pinnacle of representative rugby league, but international rugby league has once again showed it definitely has a place in the game.

Australia hosted Samoa at Queensland Country Bank Stadium in Townsville on Saturday night and put the Samoan’s to the sword, running away with a 38-12 win.

The result was set up in the opening 15 minutes, running out to a 22-0 lead and were never truly challenged by Samoa.

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But while Australia, the powerhouse of rugby league, went up against Samoa, the developing superpower who made the World Cup final in 2022, rugby league was reminded of the power of the international game.

While Australia, New Zealand and Great Britain have traditionally dominated international rugby league, the rise of Polynesian stars which have made Tonga and Samoa competitive has changed the game.

So before kick-off to the Test match, as Lapi Marina belted out a wonderful rendition of the Samoan National Anthem Sāmoa Tulaʻi the pride of representing their ancestors was clear.

As the anthem began, Cowboys second rower Luciano Leilua was clearly fighting back the emotions, while cameras also found Dolphins forward Connolly Lemuelu, who had tears streaming down his cheeks.

From there, the Samoan team delivered a spine-tingling Sivi Tau war dance.

“Brilliant, absolutely brilliant,” Andrew Voss said in commentary.

“It’s an amazing exhibition of the emotion, you saw the tears from Lemuelu and Leilua, and then how quickly then gets to that and the players are now wound up.

“It is a war cry which talks about fighting to the finish and working hard and that’s what they’ll have to do tonight.”

Fans were blown away by the brilliant scenes.

Rugby league commentator Jason Costigan tweeted: “Hard to comprehend why @NRL has been so slow to embrace the magic of @IntRL when watching scenes like this.”

Another fan commented: “How beautiful is it watching people tear up when they listen to, and sing along with, their national anthem. Can tell this means the world to debutant Connelly Lemuelu.”

Another wrote: “I love this so much. Samoa!”

Another posted: “Wow, the Samoan national anthem being sung by Lapi Marina was spectacular.”

It’s not the first time players have been overcome by emotions as Sea Eagles star Josh Schuster was moved to tears last year before a Test against the Cook Islands when representing Samoa.

In front of a crowd of 18,144 however, the Samoans were overawed as the Kangaroos blew them away with an early onslaught.

Four tries in the opening 15 minutes gave Australia a commanding lead and left Samoa in their wake.

For Samoa, it was already going to be a tough assignment with one-game Storm prospect Sualauvi Faalogo at fullback while World Cup and NSW Origin star Stephen Crichton was playing out of position at five-eighth.

Crichton is covering the loss of Jarome Luai, who is still recovering from his shoulder injury suffered late in the NRL season and re-injured in the NRL grand final.

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