From the Kingsway to representing Australia: Faitala Moleka’s rugby rise

Wallaroos star Faitala Moleka. Photo: Melinda Jane.
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Rising Australian women’s rugby star Faitala Moleka has come a long way since she was a student at Nepean Creative and Performing Arts High School.

Coming from a big musical family, Moleka joined the Emu Plains-based high school in Year 7 to further develop her passion for performing.

“My family is quite musical; we grew up in church. My brother and I played in the band, so we thought we’d give creative arts a crack,” the 19-year-old told the Weekender from Wallaroos camp in Blacktown.

Moleka remained at Nepean CAPA until Year 10 before she discovered a new talent away from the Music Room.

“I found out I was okay at playing rugby, so I was like ‘let’s try a different career path and switch to a sports school in Seven Hills’,” she said.

It was the right move because just a few years later, the fly half / fullback would be making her international debut for the Wallaroos – Australia’s national women’s rugby team.

But Moleka’s mark on the sport didn’t happen overnight – in-fact, like most kids from western Sydney, she grew up playing rugby league.

“I lived over in Cambridge Park, and I played for the St Marys Saints for a while at The Kingsway,” she said.

Wallaroos star Faitala Moleka chats with Weekender journalist Nathan Taylor. Photo: Melinda Jane.

“I played league on the footy pitch and then I’d go across the road and play touch football. Most of my weeks would be spent crossing the street for league and touch.

“That Kingsway field was the centre of where it all started for me.”

Whilst carving it up with the Saints, Moleka was asked to play in a Rugby Sevens tournament to simply help make up numbers. It was this random opportunity that has led her to where she is today.

“I had no idea what a ruck or a maul even was… I just played league, so I knew how to pass the ball and tackle – that’s it,” Moleka said.

“I must’ve done okay because they wanted me back the very next week. I soon discovered, I enjoyed it more than league, so I started focusing more on Sevens before I gave 15s a crack around three years ago.”

It was at this same time that another interesting circumstance in Moleka’s journey took place.

It was during the COVID restrictions era and, coming from a large Samoan family, Moleka and her many siblings decided to leave the house for a game of touch footy in a local park. The fresh air and being out of the confines of their home was very much-needed, that was until the local authorities drove by.

Wallaroos star Faitala Moleka. Photo: Melinda Jane.

“I have so many siblings that we could probably put two teams together, that’s why the cops pulled up on us,” Moleka explained.

“The police asked us if we were all from the same household, thinking we were breaching COVID restrictions. I said, ‘It’s all good, guys, no need to worry, we all live together’.”

From playing footy with her siblings in a quiet park to representing her country on the big stage – Moleka has had quite the ride.

This Saturday night those same family members will be in the stands at Allianz Stadium for Australia’s Pacific Four Series opener against Canada.
After playing Super W for the ACT Brumbies as well as a number of major fixtures interstate and overseas, Moleka can’t wait to hit the field in her very own backyard.

“Saturday against Canada is a great opportunity to show our family and friends how hard all of us have been working,” she said.

“That’s why I’m so excited to play in Sydney.

“Getting to travel for rugby… it’s a pretty great lifestyle, but nothing will beat playing at home.”

Nathan Taylor

Nathan Taylor is the Weekender's Deputy Editor and Senior Sports Writer. He also compiles the weekly Chatter on the Box TV column. Nathan is an award-winning journalist, who has worked at the Weekender for a decade.

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