Danny Tusitala is a rising star in International Rugby.
He’s making waves in his sporting career, debuting for Manu Samoa rugby team last year and previously playing for the Samoa Rugby Sevens team.
Danny joined the Church four years ago and was fortunate to meet former All Black Sid Going at a YSA conference before he was baptized. Sid is well-known for giving up his spot on the All Blacks team to serve a full-time mission for two years.
“Sid shared with me how being a member is not going to be easy,” he said.
“He said it is going to be hard and I will lose friends along the way but I will also gain good friends and stay true to what I believe in.”
Danny said his life changed because of the gospel. He was sealed to his wife Shannon in the Hamilton, New Zealand Temple last year. They have two children together, Jaimee-Munroe and Kyrie. They now live in France where he plays for Stade Aurillacois Cantal Auvergne, a French rugby union club.
“My wife and kids have been my biggest influence and my faith plays a huge impact in my sporting career,” he said.
“My family have always pushed me to be better. The gospel had always been so important to me and I can see how happy my family are when we align our lives with Church’s teachings. It is all about putting the Lord first and trusting in Him that everything will work out and that He has a plan. It will happen in His time.”
Danny, like many other young boys, always dreamed of playing professional rugby.
“As the years went on it became really hard for me and looked to be totally impossible,” he said.
However, in 2015, an opportunity came knocking and Danny “sacrificed everything” to trial for the Samoa Rugby Sevens team.
“It was then that I realized I was finally making my dream a reality and that I could actually fulfil this life time dream I had always wanted.”
Danny is proud to be Samoan, and said it was “emotional” pulling on the Manu Samoa jersey for the first time.
“I was standing in the changing room putting my jersey on and surrounded by other players who I have always looked up to. It was an indescribable feeling, especially knowing it was finally my turn.”
There were many times Danny felt like giving up, but he said his wife gave him motivation.
“My wife always reminded me that there was no time for that, and giving up would defeat the whole purpose of all the sacrifice and tears. She would tell me how close we were and that we had come so far to stop now.”
And he’s got his own advice for youngsters who are chasing a dream.
“Prepare now, surround yourself with good friends that want the best for you and stay grounded,” he said.
“Looking back at my youth days, I definitely could have made better choices, but it is those trials I faced and overcame that makes me who I am today.
“I know that if I continue to work hard and put the Lord first, things will work out. This opportunity has opened many doors and more opportunities to come for my family.”