Leiua offered Samoa test spot as ABs beckon

TOBY ROBSON
Last updated 05:00 09/05/2013
Alapati Leiua
FAIRFAX NZ
BIG DECISION: Alapati Leiua is yet to choose between Samoa and New Zealand.

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Alapati Leiua faces one of the toughest decisions in rugby this week after being named in the Samoan rugby squad.

Born and raised in Samoa, the 24-year-old has settled in Wellington where he is believed to have played his way onto the All Black selectors' radar during the Hurricanes Super Rugby campaign.

The spanner in that works is that Leiua was named this week along with team-mates Jack Lam and Tusi Pisi in a Samoan squad to tour South Africa next month.

Leiua's manager Bruce Sharrock wouldn't comment yesterday other than to confirm his client had not yet declared his international allegiance.

A similar scenario played out last year when he was named by Samoa only to later pull out.

This time around, Leiua's hesitation suggests he may have been tipped as a possible inclusion in All Blacks training camps later this month.

Coach Steve Hansen has said he will cast his eye over several players considered to be on the fringe of the All Blacks and Leiua fits that bill to a tee.

He moved to Wellington as a 16-year-old to attend Porirua College, and has improved to the point of a consistently high level of performance over the Hurricanes' 10 matches this season.

He finds himself in an unenviable situation, but one which many players of dual eligibility have found themselves in over the years.

The desire to represent one's country of birth weighed against the possibility of reaching the pinnacle of New Zealand rugby.

It is a complex decision, probably only fully understood by those who are forced to make it.

There is considerable risk in chasing the All Blacks dream, one which comes with no guarantees.

Leiua could be seen as a future All Blacks centre or as a utility.

While Leiua is taking some time to ponder his future, New Zealand-born openside Lam has made his final decision.

Lam, also eligible for Australia, has officially thrown his hat in with his parents' birth country: Samoa.

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