‘So much spirit’: Kiwi AFL player’s family honour him with a surprise haka before his debut

‘So much spirit’: Kiwi AFL player’s family honour him with a surprise haka before his debut

“It got me amped up."

Over in Australia, a Kiwi Aussie Rules player finally made it to the big league and his family was there to celebrate his big moment. 

Mykelti Lefau was born in Aotearoa and moved to Melbourne in 2012 at the age of 13. At the time, he didn’t even know what the Australian Football League (AFL) was, but he would be playing in it twelve years later. 

After being called up to play for Melbourne’s Richmond FC in their game against Port Adelaide on Sunday and receiving his jersey in the club locker room, his whānau surprised him with an emotional haka that is now going viral. 

Lefau told AFL.com that the haka got him hyped for the game. 

"It was filled with so much spirit,” he said. “It got me amped up, maybe too early, but it was awesome.”

It’s a wild moment for him, and one he probably didn’t see coming even two years ago. He was a rugby league kid growing up, playing for the Melbourne Storm’s under-16s and under-18s team

He soon made the switch to Aussie Rules and, after playing in the second-tier Victoria Football League for over half a decade, he tore his ACL in 2022. That can be a career-ender for many athletes, but Lefau didn’t care. 

“I definitely did not think it was over,” he said. “I am a pretty positive guy. I know a lot of stories about people that have come back from ACLs even stronger.”

And he was right. Earlier this year, Richmond called him up for preseason trials and ended up signing him to a contract. Just 34 days after that, he would play in his first game. 

“Honestly, I didn’t think it would happen this fast,"  he said. “I was still getting over getting a contract, getting a spot on the team. I did not think that I would be playing by round two. Definitely not.”

Richmond didn’t end up winning Lefau’s first game, but it sounds like they signed a winner.