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Samo's winning habit gives Wallabies an X-factor

Winning culture ... Radike Samo.

Winning culture ... Radike Samo. Photo: Getty Images

Amid the celebration of Wallabies captain Nathan Sharpe over the past few months, the contribution of another elder statesman has been all but forgotten.

Radike Samo has not played in every Test this year, as has his John Eales medal-winning team mate, nor has he made every squad.

He's got a remarkable history, a remarkable history of success, he's a winner and [that is] probably something he doesn't get a lot of credit for. 

In fact, after the glory of the 2011 Super season, the Reds back rower topped an inconsistent 2012 season with a shoulder injury that hampered him in the Rugby Championship.

And yet there remains something about Samo, a Wallaby again at the ripe old age of 36, that has kept Robbie Deans coming back for more.

"He's got a remarkable history, a remarkable history of success, he's a winner and [that is] probably something he doesn't get a lot of credit for," Deans said.

"To be playing as well as he is, as effectively as he is, at this age, is remarkable. There's not too many others that have that sort of physical prowess at this stage of a huge career. He's played in the northern hemisphere, he's played in the southern hemisphere, he's played in all of the tough competitions and he's been the point of difference often."

That fact is probably not lost on Queensland fans, who watched the towering Fijian-born forward electrify the Reds' attack from up front, on a near-weekly basis, in their triumphant march to the Super Rugby title last year.

It may not be lost on Wallabies supporters, who remember the gobsmacking try he scored, from outside halfway, that helped Australia to victory in the Tri Nations final against the All Blacks last year.

And it was certainly not lost on members of the French media, who were eager to reminisce with Samo about the match-winning try he scored for Stade Francais against Clermont in the Top 14 final in 2006.

Samo's French experiment only lasted one year before he moved to Japan for three seasons until 2010, when Ewen McKenzie gave him a chance in Queensland.

But it is that most unusual of qualities — an "X-factor" that has survived 12 years in professional rugby — that continues to delight Deans and earned Samo a spot in the Wallabies line-up, more than eight years after earning his first cap.

"You pick these blokes because of what they can do," Deans said. "Sure, their form may fluctuate, but that's where blokes who have history and background [are important] ... He's a bloke who's always responded to the occasion, he's been the point of difference on big occasions, often. It was an element we were looking for as well — someone who could give us momentum, stop momentum, bring a bit of X-factor."

Samo puts much of his recent longevity down to three years without alcohol. He has had one drink — after the Reds' Super Rugby final win last year — but nothing more, since the death of his father in early 2010. His post-game ritual these days involves a kava ceremony with his family, to "cool down my nerves".

"In Fiji you've got to [give up drinking after a relative's death] for three months," Samo said. "We all did that, then after the 100 nights or three months everyone gets back together and celebrates, and then everyone gets back on the drink. But I chose not to."

It is another reason he commands such respect from Deans and why the Wallabies coach is hoping Samo's approach rubs off on his younger team mates.

"There's a point in time when a young player recognises that it gets harder, so you've got to find a way of making it easier on yourself," Deans said.

"If, for example, you do enjoy an ale after playing, there's nothing wrong with that, [but] there's a point in time where, if you're wise and smart you'll recognise that it may not be in your best interests ... if you want to play as long as Radike has."

HuffPost Australia

Rugby World Cup 2015

Round 1
Sat, 19 SepTimes shown AEST
ENG 35vs FJI 11 Report Stats
TGA 10vs GEO 17 Report Stats
IRE 50vs CAN 7 Report Stats
Sun, 20 SepTimes shown AEST
SAF 32vs JPN 34 Report Stats
FRA 32vs ITA 10 Report Stats
SAM 25vs USA 16 Report Stats
WAL 54vs URU 9 Report Stats
Mon, 21 SepTimes shown AEST
NZL 26vs ARG 16 Report Stats
Wed, 23 SepTimes shown AEST
SCO 45vs JPN 10 Report Stats
Thu, 24 SepTimes shown AEST
AUS 28vs FJI 13 Report Stats
FRA 38vs ROM 11 Report Stats
Fri, 25 SepTimes shown AEST
NZL 58vs NAM 14 Report Stats
Sat, 26 SepTimes shown AEST
ARG 54vs GEO 9 Report Stats
ITA 23vs CAN 18 Report Stats
Sun, 27 SepTimes shown AEST
SAF 46vs SAM 6 Report Stats
ENG 25vs WAL 28 Report Stats
AUS 65vs URU 3 Report Stats
SCO 39vs USA 16 Report Stats
Mon, 28 SepTimes shown AEST
IRE 44vs ROM 10 Report Stats
Wed, 30 SepTimes shown AEST
TGA 35vs NAM 21 Report Stats
Fri, 02 OctTimes shown AEST
WAL 23vs FJI 13 Report Stats
FRA 41vs CAN 18 Report Stats
Sat, 03 OctTimes shown AEST
NZL 43vs GEO 10 Report Stats
SAM 5vs JPN 26 Report Stats
Sun, 04 OctTimes shown AEST
SAF 34vs SCO 16 Report Stats
ENG 13vs AUS 33 Report Stats
Mon, 05 OctTimes shown AEDT
ARG 45vs TGA 16 Report Stats
IRE 16vs ITA 9 Report Stats
Wed, 07 OctTimes shown AEDT
CAN 15vs ROM 17 Report Stats
FJI 47vs URU 15 Report Stats
Thu, 08 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 0vs USA 0 02:45The Stadium, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
NAM 0vs GEO 0 06:00Sand
Sat, 10 OctTimes shown AEDT
NZL 0vs TGA 0 06:00St James' Park
Sun, 11 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAM 0vs SCO 0 00:30St James' Park
AUS 0vs WAL 0 02:45Twic
ENG 0vs URU 0 06:00Manch
ARG 0vs NAM 0 22:00Leicester City Stadium
Mon, 12 OctTimes shown AEDT
ITA 0vs ROM 0 00:30Sand
FRA 0vs IRE 0 02:45MilS
USA 0vs JPN 0 06:00Kholm
View All Fixtures
Round 2
Sun, 18 OctTimes shown AEDT
WinB 0vs RUpA 0 02:00Twic
WinC 0vs RUpD 0 06:00MilS
WinD 0vs RUpC 0 23:00MilS
Mon, 19 OctTimes shown AEDT
WinA 0vs RUpB 0 02:00Twic
Sun, 25 OctTimes shown AEDT
WQF1 0vs WQF2 0 02:00Twic
Mon, 26 OctTimes shown AEDT
WQF3 0vs WQF4 0 03:00Twic
Sat, 31 OctTimes shown AEDT
LSF1 0vs LSF2 0 07:00The Stadium, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
Sun, 01 NovTimes shown AEDT
WSF1 0vs WSF2 0 03:00Twic
View All Fixtures
Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Australia 3 3 0 0 97 13
Wales 3 3 0 0 58 13
England 3 1 2 0 1 6
Fiji 4 1 3 0 -17 5
Uruguay 3 0 3 0 -139 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
South Africa 3 2 1 0 56 11
Scotland 3 2 1 0 40 10
Japan 3 2 1 0 -12 8
Samoa 3 1 2 0 -52 4
USA 2 0 2 0 -32 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
New Zealand 3 3 0 0 87 14
Argentina 3 2 1 0 64 10
Tonga 3 1 2 0 -22 6
Georgia 3 1 2 0 -71 4
Namibia 2 0 2 0 -58 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Ireland 3 3 0 0 84 14
France 3 3 0 0 72 14
Italy 3 1 2 0 -24 5
Romania 3 1 2 0 -59 4
Canada 4 0 4 0 -73 2
View all

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