A 30-year-old Griffith super mum has gone within a whisker of winning a gold medal at a major Commonwealth Games lead-up event in Brisbane.
Representing her country of origin Samoa at the rugby league Commonwealth Nines Championship, Retta Leao-Seve picked up a silver medal when her team lost a nailbiting final against Australia’s Jillaroos.
“It was an absolute cracker of a game. We were level until the end… it just slipped through our fingers,” Retta said.
“But we are so proud of our efforts. We only came together a week beforehand, whereas the Australian team had been together for a year”.
Australia won the final 14-8.
In the pool stages, Samoa beat Fiji 24-6 before losing to Australia 24-4 – enough to qualify for the medal contesting matches.
In the semi-final, Samoa upset a more fancied Tonga side 20-0. Retta’s friend and Yenda all-stars teammate Lele Katoa was in the Tongan side.
“It was awesome playing in the tournament.. I was happy with how I did as I’d only been playing rugby league for a year,” Lele said.
Retta, 31, also conquered the odds to get to the Brisbane tournament.
She juggled work and single mum duties to beat out dozens of much younger players to be selected for the strong Samoan side.
“When we turned 13, we couldn’t play rugby league at school anymore because we were girls… it’s only recently we got back into it”.
Winning silver alongside Retta was the Leeton Lima – bestie and sister-in-law Cecilia Smith – who is known as a female version of Samoan legend Brian "The Chiropractor" Lima.
“It was crazy… such an honour to represent my country,” Cecilia said
Cecilia put in many of her trademark big hits, but unlike previous tournaments nobody had to be stretchered off after being tackled by her.
The Leeton Lima will now hop codes, playing for the Brumbies in the Super W women’s rugby union competition.
Retta would like to thanks Baiada Enterprises, Yenda Blueheelers and De Bortoli Wines for their support.
Supercoach Sam Loaloadrava put in extra effort to get the ladies well prepared, and Sam Panarello provided valuable sponsorship.
Retta said, “the whole town of Griffith got behind us, we are so grateful for all the support”.