By Alan Ah Mu and Koloseta Tauasa
APIA: FRIDAY 7 JUNE 2013: One reason Alapati Leiua chose Manu Samoa over the All Blacks was to spend more time with older brother Ofisa Treviranus.
Rugby separated them as Treviranus travelled the globe as a sevens star who became a world champion when Manu Samoa 7s won the IRB series in 2010.
Selection to Manu Samoa 15s followed then contracts in Ireland for Connacht and London Irish took the flanker to Europe while Leiua watched from Malie, the village of their parents with a passion for rugby so consuming he neglected his school work.
A brighter future in New Zealand beckoned so at age 16 Leiua was adopted by his father’s brother who was resident there, a move that caused a change of last name.
Rapid progress saw him picked for Wellington then Hurricanes in the Super competition but his brother lived thousands of miles away in Europe.
When Manu Samoa selection emerged Leiua, 24, struggled to decide whether to accept it as he was at the door of All Blacks status.
A straight out wish to play in the same team as his brother led him to choose Samoa instead of compete for the black jersey of New Zealand.
“I’m glad to have the chance to play together with my brother,” said Leiua.
“I’m also happy for the chance to be together because we’ve been separated for quite a while,” he said.
Now rugby has reunited the brothers in South Africa where Leiua has surged into the Manu Samoa team to make his test debut tomorrow against Scotland while Treviranus, 29, has retained his place at openside flanker.
Little separate them in height with Treviranus at 6’ 11/2” just half an inch taller.
Both are bound to remember this test against Scotland forever.
Another pair of brothers named in the team is Census and James Johnston.
But it seems they won’t be on the field at the same time because Census, 32, has been retained his place at tight head prop – James’ position as well.
Named in the reserves, James, 27, might be called upon to replace his brother off the bench.
Samoa sorely wants to become a Tier 1 rugby nation and no faster path towards that status immediately exists than success at the four nations’ tournament with the game against Scotland tomorrow at Mbombela Stadium.
Captain Paul Williams is keen to avenge a heart breaking loss to Scotland in Apia last year.
Next up is Italy on 15 June with a test against the Springboks possible.
SAMOA: James Sooialo, Alapati Leiua, Paul Williams (captain), John Leota, Alesana Tuilagi, Tusiata Pisi, Jeremy Sua, Taiasina Tuifua, Jack Lam, Ofisa Treviranus, Daniel Leo, Teofilo Paulo, Census Johnston, Wayne Ole Avei, Logovii Mulipola.
Reserves: Maatulimanu Leiataua, Sakaria Taulafo, James Johnston, Faatiga Lemalu, Junior Poluleuligaga, Brando Vaaulu, Seilala Mapusua, Alafoti Faosiliva
SCOTLAND: Greig Tonks, Sean Lamont, Alex Dunbar, Matt Scott, Tim Visser, Tom Heathcote, Greig Laidlaw, Johnnie Beattie, Kelly Brown (captain), Alasdair Strokosch, Alastair Kellock, Grant Gilchrist, Euan Murray, Pat MacArthur, Ryan Grant.
Reserves: Steve Lawrie, Alasdair Dickinson, Geoff Cross, Jim Hamilton, Ryan Wilson, Henry Pyrgos, Peter Horne, Duncan Taylor.