Super mum Samoa prepared for stay-at-home challenge

Super W
by Emma Greenwood

If anyone is prepared to spend enforced time at home with the kids during the era of social isolation, it's Reds player Hilisha Samoa.

Samoa returned to elite rugby this season after a break following the 2017 World Cup, after which she was named the Wallaroos' player of the year.

Then a mother of three, Samoa had another two children following the World Cup, daughters Monica (two in August) and Licia (six months), younger sisters for Lennox 13, Evander, 8 and Apollo, 3.

Her return to rugby required an incredible amount of organisation and planning - skills that are in use in her Griffin household, north of Brisbane, every day, sport or no sport.

"It's busy with the extra numbers but it's all in the planning ahead and organising," Samoa said.

"Whoever has the kids while I'm at training, it's just giving them a heads up and getting things organised like dinner, making sure they have their activities organised and when I get back they're in bed.

"Sometimes it's not as hard or busy as it seems but there are days when it's busy and that might be when the kids themselves know I'm going out the door and they'll start playing up - I just give them a hug beforehand."

While there's no going to training or games at the moment, Samoa had made a successful return to the sport this season after getting "the itch" after watching the first two Super W seasons from the sidelines.

"I think the passion and I had the good old itch," Samoa said of her reasons for returning to play this season after the birth of her daughters.

"I just missed all the camaraderie and mateship that you can form in rugby and obviously the passion is there.

"And the kids - I just wanted to show them that when you play sport, something can come of it."

Samoa grew up watching her own mother play footy and wanted to set that example for her own children.

"Mum played footy and just looking back, she had four of us and she'd be like: 'Get in the car, let's go, we're going to training'.

"And we'd be excited. She would do the school runs and then she'd go and do her extra training and pick us up after work and then go back to training and we'd go and do sport on the weekend when we'd come of age to go and play sport ourselves.

"It was quite busy in the household. Mum would still play her sport while we were playing our sport as well."

Samoa has seen plenty of improvement since her return, saying the introduction of Super W has helped raise the standard of women's rugby in Australia.

And while she will not have the opportunity to play finals after the coronavirus crisis forced the cancellation of playoffs, she revealed she was aiming to regain a spot in the Wallaroos squad ahead of next year's World Cup.

"Super W has brought out the best in a lot of players," she said.

"That's great to see and it's inspired me as well as a mum, to go back to rugby again. The professionalism skill level and the girls' attitudes, it's so good.

"There is an ambition there (to return to the Wallaroos).

"With my support group, I said: 'What do you reckon?' and they said why not, so I guess that's where it's heading.

"It would be nice but we'll just see where we go and work hard from there."

Regardless of her own future, Samoa would like to see her own girls play rugby one day, believing the opportunities for them will eventually be as good as for her sons.

"I've got a lot of hopes for them that's it's equal, that they get to have a voice, that the goals that they set at that time, everyone will be on the same path to help them through - not only physically and skills, but also mentally, all around as a rugby player at that level," she said.

"I hope that it's improved by then and by improving, I mean that they get paid for the sport that they love to play."