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what's your why
 
 
what's your why

"You're nobody". "You're not good enough". These words have fuelled Malakai Fekitoa since he was just a little boy. Watch his inspirational story, told by Eric Thomas, the hip hop preacher of motivation, and discover the 'why' behind Malakai's success.

 
 
 

Malakai Fekitoa

Born

10th May 1992
Ha'apai, Tonga

Position

Centre

Provincial/Super Rugby Teams

AUCKLAND / HIGHLANDERS

All Blacks Test Debut

All Blacks vs. England
Eden Park, 07.06.2014
Number 1131

 

1998

The Injury

At the age of five, Malakai was playing cat and mouse with his younger cousin around a community hall in his hometown of Ha'apai, Tonga. The hall had large doors (described by Malakai as Roman doors). They were incredibly heavy and not hinged onto a wall. While chasing his cousin, the worst happened. Malakai pulled on the unhinged door, and it landed on his hip, seriously injuring him.

1998

A painful recovery

The medical care available in Tonga at the time was basic to say the least and the doctors lacked the knowledge needed to treat Malakai's injury. Coming from a very traditional Tongan family, Malakai's Father attempted to treat his injury in the traditional way. The ritual involved rigorous, excruciating massage using traditional plant remedies. Recovery was slow, so Malakai was moved to his grandmother's village where she continued the treatment for over a year, nursing him back to health.

 
 

1999

Schoolyard hardships

The return to primary school a year later was very hard on Malakai. He still had an obvious limp and was often bullied. The kids taunted him with the name 'Polio'.

But it was also during this time that Malakai began to regain his confidence. During an athletics day running race, Malakai, against his mum's wishes, entered the race and finished second. This was a defining moment, as he realised he had fully recovered from his injury.

2004

Emerging rugby talent

At 12, Malakai began playing rugby and quickly became a local talent. He was keen to follow in the footsteps of his older siblings and make his rugby mad dad proud. He didn't play in his own age group and often got placed in higher grades.

His talent didn't go un-noticed and Malakai won a sporting scholarship to complete his schooling on the main land. This inspired him to work even harder. He was determined to succeed and make his family proud, despite all the people who said he'd never make it.

2004

At 12, Malakai began playing rugby and quickly became a local talent. He was keen to follow in the footsteps of his older siblings and make his rugby mad dad proud. He didn't play in his own age group and often got placed in higher grades.

His talent didn't go un-noticed and Malakai won a sporting scholarship to complete his schooling on the main land. This inspired him to work even harder. He was determined to succeed and make his family proud, despite all the people who said he'd never make it.

 

2008

The first knock–back

At the age of 16, before Malakai came to New Zealand, he was offered an NRL contract to play for the Canterbury Bulldogs. At the last minute, Malakai's visa to enter Australia was declined. This was a testing time for Malakai, as some of the people from the village thought that he had lied about the contract offer and was not good enough to play in Australia. Yet he continued to strive to be the best in the game and prove the people of his village wrong.

2009

New Zealand

At the age of 17, Malakai was spotted by a talent scout. He was awarded a sporting scholarship to Wesley College and found himself on his way to New Zealand. He arrived with almost no belongings and struggled to fit in due to his poor English. He suffered daily with homesickness, often crying after his games when the other kids were collected by their parents.

Malakai's mum, who has supported him tirelessly, would call or message him before and after every game, so he always had someone to talk to and support him.

While his initial years in New Zealand were hard, there was no going back for Malakai. He wasn't going to let all the people who had doubted him, be right.

At the age of 17, Malakai was spotted by a talent scout. He was awarded a sporting scholarship to Wesley College and found himself on his way to New Zealand. He arrived with almost no belongings and unable to speak English. He struggled daily with homesickness, often crying after his games when the other kids were collected by their parents.

Malakai's mum, who has supported him tirelessly, would call or message him before and after every game, so he always had someone to talk to and support him.

While his initial years in New Zealand were hard, there was no going back for Malakai. He wasn't going to let all the people who had doubted him, be right.

 

2009

Fighting for position

Despite the scholarship, Malakai had to fight for game time and the field position he wanted. In Tonga and New Zealand, he was always pushed out to the wing, as his coaches thought he lacked the ability and judgement to play other positions on the field. This only motivated him to work harder. His drive and motivation were unstoppable and at times caused him to argue with his coaches, or even be cut from teams.

2013

The struggle

After making 12 appearances for Auckland during the 2012 ITM Cup season, Malakai was selected to play for the Auckland Blues in the Super Rugby Competition. Still struggling to settle in New Zealand, Malakai was often left without a ride to training and not wanting to ask for help he would run across Auckland from his home in Panmure. His coaches struggled to understand why some days he was unable to train to his full potential until they realised what was happening.

Malakai played only one season for the Blues, before getting the chance to play for The Highlanders, which he saw as an opportunity to further develop his game and rebuild his focus to succeed.

After making 12 appearances for Auckland during the 2012 ITM Cup season, Malakai was selected to play for the Auckland Blues in the Super Rugby Competition. Still struggling to settle in New Zealand, Malakai was often left without a ride to training and not wanting to ask for help he would run across Auckland from his home in Panmure. His coaches struggled to understand why some days he was unable to train to his full potential until they realised what was happening.

Malakai played only one season for the Blues, before getting the chance to play for The Highlanders, which he saw as an opportunity to further develop his game and rebuild his focus to succeed.

 

2014

The Highlanders

Malakai moved down South to play for the Highlanders. Having learnt from his past mistakes, he trained even harder, using his days off to get ahead. His whole attitude towards his professional career changed and he was more motivated than ever to become an All Black. His first taste of success was as part of the Highlanders 2015 title winning team.

2014

All Black selection

The goal Malakai had been striving for was finally realised in 2014, when he was selected as an All Black rookie, picked to play in the June test series after only four months of Super Rugby Competition. He played his first game as an All Black against England, called in as a replacement centre for Conrad Smith.

Malakai had MCXXXI tattooed on his chest. This is 1131 in Roman numerals, his All Black number. Something no-one can take away from him.

 
 

2015

The World Cup

Malakai played for the 2015 World Cup winning All Blacks squad, a highlight for any All Black player, scoring two tries during the Tournament.

2016

Malakai now

Malakai was reselected for the All Black's squad, establishing himself as a starting player. He is determined to train hard, stay focused and pursue his goal of becoming the best rugby centre in the world.

 
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