Kiwi Ferns forward Teuila Fotu-Moala admits feeling pressure to deliver in Saturday’s Rugby League World Cup final after being crowned player of the tournament.
Fotu-Moala beat Ferns teammate Honey Hireme and Jillaroos star Ali Brigginshaw following an impressive campaign where she was among the leaders in metres and line break assists.
“Overwhelmed, I was speechless when I heard my name,” she said on Wednesday.
“When they started talking about my stats. I didn’t realise my stats were pretty decent for the tournament. I’m still quite speechless, have no words yet.
“I don’t think it has kicked in yet but it is a massive World Cup and it’s quite competitive this time around. I’m real honoured to say the least.”
While humbled, Fotu-Moala, who turned 24 on Wednesday, said she had begun to feel the weight of expectation that came with recognition.
It was true she’d once been dubbed ‘The Jukebox’ by Kangaroos great Darren Lockyer, she said. The name was given because the hits keep coming from Fotu-Moala.
“I loved Darren Lockyer. He’s one of my favourites and for him to give me a nickname, that’s real cool. I’ll take it, but there’s another pressure for hitting out. If it happens, it happens. I don’t want people expecting hits.
“It puts a bit of pressure on me, there’ll be more eyes on me. (People will say) ‘Oh okay, she’s the fearless woman, let’s see what she’s got’, for those who haven’t been following.
“I just have to prove that I’ve worked hard to get here where I am.”
Fotu-Moala said she also had to overcome the difficulty of initially being discouraged by her family to pursue her rugby league dream.
“From the start of my journey, they haven’t been that supportive only because it wasn’t feminine to be out of the house training at night,” she said.
“Later on as I made the Kiwis, they only started being supportive and giving me a push and pushing me to do the best I could.
“I wasn’t allowed to play Sundays or because I was a girl my family would stop me from playing but I kept sneaking out of the house on Sundays and just going anyway.
“It was just those little traditional things they wanted me to be real traditional. When they saw I was doing well, then they just let it go because they got tired of saying no.”
Story care of stuff.co.nz.