By Jordan Hughes
When Levi Samuela was a junior rugby player in New Zealand, his dad had to bribe him to play.
Now he can’t get enough of playing for the Bull Sharks alongside his older brother Helaman.
Levi, 24, came to the Gold Coast for a holiday earlier this year when Queensland welcomed back Kiwis after Covid locked them out for two years.
He asked Bond Rugby if he could do pre-season training with his much-missed sibling. Coach Grant Anderson readily agreed. The Bond mentor liked what he saw, asking Levi to stay for the season to help bolster the squad’s front row stocks.
“I love it at Bond it’s such a professional environment,” said Levi.
“Bond has a very good culture around the University and all the boys have been awesome. Everyone is just really focused and ripping into their rugby at the moment.”
He’s a far cry from his 13-year-old self, who was reluctant to chase opportunities on the pitch.
“I guess dad kind of got sick of watching me standing out on the wing not doing anything, so he offered me a dollar for every try I scored,” he recalled.
“I thought, okay. What kid doesn’t want an extra bit of money to go to tuckshop?
“As I got more competitive he started dropping the money down a little bit. He started ripping me off, I guess. My biggest haul was four dollars.’’
He’s been playing in the second grade for the Bull Sharks, and coming off the bench in the premier grade, replacing Helaman in the front row in the back end of matches.
“He usually gases out and then I come on.”
For the first time in their careers, the brothers featured in the same team in round two, when Bond enjoyed a 31-7 win over Sunnybank.
“It was pretty crazy,” Levi said.
“We haven’t been on the field at the same time but playing premier rugby for the first time for me was a really big achievement.”
Helaman, who missed out on his dad’s gentle blackmailing and has been with Bond since 2017, said it was a special moment.
“It was awesome we were able to wear the same jersey together, we were able to warm up together. And just being able to look across at each other and realise that we’re on the same team and that it was actually happening, “he said.
Their mum is relieved the pair are now fending for themselves in the kitchen. Her big cook-ups were no match for their prop-sized stomachs.
“She would wrap up individual portions and store them in the freezer and we were only meant to take one, but we would take two or three and then have more after school,” Levi said.
“They were mean to last us a couple of weeks, but they would only last a day or two.”
“We would just go crazy and eat everything in the house and she would have to cook again and eventually she gave up on cooking for us,” Helaman reflects.
Levi now hopes the pair can play on the pitch at the same time.
“We’re really hoping so, we’re both pretty good on whichever side of the scrum we play,” he said.
“So hopefully it could happen. We’ll see what happens with injuries.”
Away from rugby, Helaman runs support service, Cultivate Care based in Coomera which helps locals with intellectual disabilities, autism and spinal cord injuries. Levi also works in the business.
And if that doesn’t keep him busy enough, Helaman, 28, has recently welcomed a baby boy, also named Helaman.
He’s hoping his newborn will be at the next game at The Canal following the bye, when Bond meet Sunnybank again on Saturday July 2.