Warrior Lino's Anzac link
As the NRL Telstra Premiership pauses to commemorate Anzac Day in Round 8, Warriors halfback Mason Lino last week discovered his own unique connection to the day of remembrance.
Born in the Samoan capital of Apia and raised in New Zealand from the age of five, both of Lino's parents are of Samoan and Chinese heritage and he maintains a strong link to his nation of birth, who he has represented at international level on the rugby league field.
It was a recent conversation with the Warriors' mental skills coach, Aaron Walsh, which inspired Lino to learn more about the Samoan link to the Anzacs, which saw troops from the Pacific nation join both Australian and New Zealand forces in battle at Gallipoli.
While he won't take part in the club's annual NRL Telstra Premiership clash against the Melbourne Storm at AAMI Park on Anzac Day, the 23-year-old told NRL.com that he would approach the day with an improved awareness and understanding this year.
"I just learned a bit of history about Anzac Day last week actually and didn't realise that within the Anzac troops there were 80 or 90 Samoan troops with them," Lino said.
"It was just a little chat with our club psychologist, he did a bit of research and asked if I knew about it. I had no idea and I was surprised and extremely proud.
"I have no family in the military or anything like that so it wasn't something I was aware of.
"It was a massive deal for us coming from a small island, to go over there and help out… it is incredible to believe.
"What they did, no other job can match that, to go out there and fight for your family and people. What they did representing our small island was amazing."
Tuesday afternoon will be the eighth time the Storm and Warriors have met on Anzac Day, dating back to 2009 when they played out a thrilling 14-14 draw at Olympic Park.
Veteran Warrior Simon Mannering said it was important players never lost sight of the fact that it is a privilege to be able to play rugby league and do something you love on such a day.
"Just savour the occasion, there's only two games I think on the day so it's pretty lucky to be able to play on Anzac Day," Mannering said.
"For us to play against a great side in Melbourne is a great challenge and you can't take it for granted how much of an honour it is to play on Anzac Day."