It won’t be the first time he has pulled on the navy blue of Samoa however playing in the 2017 Rugby League World Cup will be a first for Ricky Leutele.
Having made his debut for Toa Samoa in 2014, Leutele has represented his ancestral home on three occasions.
The last time he donned the Samoan jersey came in 2016, where he scored a tried in his side’s victory over fierce rivals Tonga in a 18-6 victory.
Throw in a premiership win with the Cronulla Sharks in 2016 and of course who could forget “that tackle”, something that will remain synonymous with Leutele’s name for Sharks fans the world over, one would say it’s been a good ride for “Slick”.
However, one box yet to be ticked for Leutele is his World Cup debut.
The 2017 competition offers that opportunity to the strongly built centre.
“I’m really excited,” said Leutele.
“I’ve never played in a World Cup before so to be in the same competition with the best players in the world, I’m really looking forward to it.”
For Leutele, the chance to represent Samoa is something he is truly grateful for and something that means not only a lot to him personally, however to his family also.
“I always love representing Samoa.
“It’s a country that’s rich in culture and it’s where my family is from; it’s our heritage.
“The country is a big part of my life so any chance I get to represent Samoa; I will take it with open arms.”
Having fielded a strong squad, the Samoan line-up does not lack size and speed. Players such as Josh Papalli, Suaia Matagi, the Mata’utia brothers and Tautau Moga will all provide a mix of class and passion that will be needed for Toa Samoa to overcome the “heavy-weight” nations in the tournament.
“I’ve played with most of the guy in the squad already but it’s good that there’s a few new faces in there. I think we have a good mix of size and power in that team so mix that with a good group of guys, who knows what we can achieve.”
Grab your tickets to the 2017 Rugby League World Cup today - http://www.rlwc2017.com/fixtures