Four years after guiding The Waratahs to a premiership in Newcastle, halfback Auvasa Faleali’i was gearing up for the biggest Test in world rugby.
Faleali’i was this week named on the bench for Samoa to play an international against the almighty All Blacks at famed venue Eden Park on Friday night (6pm AEST).
The 26-year-old was instrumental in helping The Waratahs win the Newcastle and Hunter Rugby Union grand final in 2013 and teammate Carl Manu, now player-coach at the same club, said Faleali’i always had the talent.
“Individually he was just a raw talent,” Manu said.
“He was pretty amazing – really strong defensively and clever in attack.
“The way he played here, they couldn’t really handle him.”
Faleali’i, who has been playing with French club Nevers the last two seasons, represented Samoa under 20s at the 2009 Junior World Championships and has also enjoyed stints with Auckland, Randwick and the Greater Sydney Rams.
He was ruled out for Samoa on Friday morning with injury and replaced by Dwayne Polataivao.