CANBERRA, Australia (AP) – Meaalofa Te’o is 9 years old and already making quite an impression on social media. And, most particularly, on his junior rugby league opponents.
Video of Te’o running over and through opposing players and scoring numerous tries has been viewed around the world the past few days since a recent tournament in Canberra.
One segment of the video shows the lumbering 9-year-old sending one opponent flying with a strong arm while fending off an attempted tackle. Fans on the sidelines are heard to say “Oh my goodness” as Te’o, wearing No. 17, knocks down player after player as he runs for another four-point try.
His family lives in the Dandenong region, near Melbourne, in Victoria state, but made the 700-kilometer (430-mile) trip northeast to Canberra and left with a trophy following their son’s one-man show.
Karene Te’o, Meaalofa’s father, told Nine television’s Wide World of Sports that his son is actually a mild-mannered kid.
“Tries like that are normal for him, he is a very good player but soft at heart. He is a very humble young boy,” Karene Te’o said.
Meaalofa usually plays for Sunbury United, but changed to another team in the region, the Doveton Steelers, so he could play on the same team as his cousins for the Canberra tournament.
Reaction to the story and video on the Nine Network website was mixed, with some questioning the boy’s age and others saying he should not be allowed to play because he was so much larger than others his age. Others said allowing him to play was akin to cheating.
But another person who posted a comment on the story said: “Don’t worry about ALL those jealous tongues hissing … they’re envious….They can ONLY wish and dream.”