This is the amazing journey of Pocklington Rugby Club player Albert Onelei who has received a late call to join up with the Samoa squad for the game against a star-studded Barbarians this Saturday (December 27).
Onelei, 23, has been a Pocklington regular this season, but a whirlwind 72-hours saw him projected onto the international stage.
After helping Pocklington to a 31-21 victory at Ilkley in their North 1 East league fixture on Saturday, it was back to Pocklington for a night on the town with his teammates.
He was in the gym on Monday evening when he got the call up from Samoa head coach Seilala Mapusua, telling him to get himself to London as soon as possible.
Onelei was initially stunned with the news, shaking his head, and saying: “I wasn’t expecting this, I can’t believe it.”
He had just enough time to go back to his digs in Pocklington, make a quick phone call to his parents in Samoa, grab his kit, and get the 10.35pm train from York to Kings Cross before making a taxi journey across London in the early hours to the team’s hotel.
Albert had previously played for Samoa Under 20s, but was travelling around Europe when he found himself stranded in England, and came to Pocklington via the connections of the club’s high profile coaching duo Tony Penn and Mike Umaga.
He has been playing mainly back row for Pocklington but is in the Samoa squad as a hooker when his country faces a Barbarian side packed with top internationals from around the globe.
The game is being televised live on BBC1, with coverage starting at 2pm (kick-off 2.30pm).