In the last two weeks, we’ve seen 14 Blues men selected for representative teams.
Four Blues players were named in the line up for the Maori All Blacks against Fiji, five Blues were selected to play for the Barbarians, and another five were named in the All Blacks squad for the recent historic tussle against Samoa (the two teams had never faced each other on Samoan soil before last Wednesday).
For many of our Blues men, these are exciting times. But for George Moala, these last few weeks have been “unreal.”
Our young winger had been in training with the national team in the week prior to the All Blacks v Samoa test, but was shocked to hear his name read out on the team list.
“Just before we left the locker room and ran on to the field for training, they announced the team,” said George. “I was shocked, I was excited, getting your first start for the All Blacks is a massive thing.”
George called his mum and his partner, both of whom were brought to tears. And then he was off to Samoa with the squad, welcomed with a wave of heat and a crowd of Samoans excited to see our great team touch down for the first time.
“The crowd was amazing and the heat was definitely there,” George said with a laugh. Even after three days of acclimatising, George was “blowing” 10 minutes in to the match.
But his moment came 45 minutes in the match.
In case you missed it, the All Blacks were just holding on to the game with a 12-3, all penalty lead over the passionate Samoans. Andy Ellis pushed in the ball to the scrum right on the half way mark.
As Ellis lunged the ball forward to Dan Carter, the iconic back line started moving forward. But after a flat kick from our number 10, there was only one player with the legs to dart forward for the ball and then keep the ball running all the way to the try line.
It was our man George, coming through from the right wing to score the All Blacks’ only try in the historic test and his first on debut.
“I was just focussed, I didn’t care whether I got hit or not,” said George, recounting the try. “The All Blacks talk about focus a lot, as well as strategies to keep your focus, so that was what I was concentrating on.”
“It sunk in when the ref blew the whistle and all the boys came over and started congratulating me for scoring my first try,” said George. “It was unreal, I got up and was like ‘did I actually score?’”
He did, and he helped the team bring home a hard-fought 25-16 victory over Samoa.
“It was an unreal feeling to play over there, I had some nerves but was more excited and ready,” said George about wearing the black jersey for the first time. “And to play alongside some of my Blues teammates like Kevvie, Jerome and Charles was pretty special.”
And he’s learned plenty to bring back to Blues HQ for the start of the 2016 season.
“The professionalism of the All Blacks, the way they train and how every little detail counts,” said George. “With me being there for that week, I learnt so much. I can honestly say that I can take it back to the Blues and it’ll help the team.”
After a few days rest from an old neck injury that was tweaked during the game, George will be joining some of his fellow Blues players in the Barbarians this weekend when they take on the Maori All Blacks at Eden Park.