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For a long time, family time and providing for his family took precedence over pursuing an international career for Palefau. He said playing with the Utah Warriors in 15s this spring made rugby fun for him again, and with the World Cup on the horizon, he wanted to take his shot.
Between National obligations during the summer, Palefau played 7s with the Warriors and helped them qualify for the National Club 7s Championships in San Francisco Aug. 6-7, the first weekend after the start of the Eagles camp in preparation for RWC warm-up matches with Japan and Canada.
The week prior to the start of camp, Palefau and Warrior teammate Jason Pye started their own business – a weight loss camp. O’Sullivan granted Palefau amnesty on missing the first week of camp to help get his business going, and gave him the OK to join the Eagles Sunday the 7th. Then O’Sullivan caught wind that Palefau planned to play for the Warriors at 7s Nationals on the 6th and 7th before joining the team.
“He found out that my team was saying I was going to go to Nationals. He told me not to go, and then I decided to go and that’s kind of it,” Palefau said. The fullback prospect was then eliminated from consideration for the World Cup.
With the RWC in the rear view mirror, having passed him by for the second time, does Palefau regret choosing to play for the Warriors at Nationals?
“I don’t really regret it. If I would have went, I would have been wondering what happened with my business, same with my team,” he said. “I wanted to be there with all my friends that I trained with in the summer. I don’t want to say it was an easy decision, but I knew I wanted to stay and play with the Warriors.”
Palefau had to miss the Pan Am Games because of a work commitment, but he says his job has been supportive since, and he’ll likely be available most, if not all, of the World Series season this time around.
It might seem strange, that Palefau would forego a shot at the World Cup to play 7s. He says doesn’t necessarily like the game of 7s better, but the atmosphere.
“It’s more a close-knit group with the 7s team, as opposed to the 15s, just because there’s so many guys,” he said. “The actual game, I probably like 15s better. When you have to be away for a long time, the 7s team is more like a family, so it makes it a little easier to go away on a long tour.”
There are a lot of new members to the family headed to the Gold Coast. Guys who weren’t on the team when Palefau was a regular, the fastest man on the team. Palefau notices he’s not the only speedster anymore.
“Yeah I know,” he said laughing. “I’m just trying to get my strength up and my weight. I’ve probably pu ton 16 pounds, so I’m almost 220, so I’m trying to be a little more powerful. I’m trying not to rely too much on my speed, just trying to get through half gaps and offload and set guys up.”
Palefau, once a wing, will likely spend most of his time at center in
Australia and going forward.