Charlie Staines has earned his first international cap, playing for Samoa in Saturday's Pacific Test.
Charlie donned the number 1 jersey and returned to his favoured role of fullback for Toa Samoa in their 42-12 victory against Cook Islands.
His dad Shayne, who headed to the city Friday to see his son presented with his Samoan jersey, says the atmosphere at Campbelltown Stadium was electric.
The Forbes Magpies junior who made his NRL debut with Penrith Panthers in 2020, had spent the week in the Samoan camp leading up to the Test, an incredible experience.
His grandfather - Shayne's father - is a great and respected Samoan chief, and although Shayne grew up in Australia he has connected with his family and heritage in the past 10 years.
He says Charlie is grateful and proud to be part of the cultural experience, as well as stoked to be playing in his preferred position of fullback.
Charlie told International Rugby League that he was loving what he was learning as part of the Samoan team.
"I am representing my heritage and my culture," Staines said.
"The leaders in the group, Marty Taupau, Josh Aloiai and those boys, have stood up and talked about what it means to play for Samoa.
"I'm very honoured to be a part of it."
Charlie was one of four Panthers in the Samoan lineup, with Taylan May on the wing, Izack Tago in the centres and Spencer Leniu on the bench.
Samoa scored four early tries in Saturday's Test, the Cook Islands rallied their defensive efforts through the middle of the game but another run of four tries late in the game sealed Samoa's dominance.
International Rugby League stats show Charlie ran 210m with the ball with his family cheering all the way.
"It's all part of his journey," says Shayne, who was as thrilled as Charlie himself to see him back at fullback where he made such an impact in local rugby league.
To see him playing alongside Panthers' teammates in the club's current competitive climate was amazing - as was the whole experience of the Pacific Test.
"It was pretty electric, they're pretty passionate," Shayne said.
"Some of my nieces and nephews were there so it was pretty special ... they have just really embraced us reconnecting. It's pretty mind-blowing actually."
Charlie was able to reconnect with family after the game as well.
"They're proud and thrilled," Shayne said.
Samoa meet England at St James Park in the opening match of the World Cup on October 15 and International Rugby League reports the Penrith Panthers quartet may be joined in the squad by star team-mates Jarome Luai, Brian To'o and Stephen Crichton.
Murray Taulagi, Junior Paulo and Jeremiah Nanai are other Origin stars who may join the Samoa campaign for the World Cup.
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