Over the past six years, Mykelti Lefau has moved countries, juggled sports, and set himself some lofty goals for the future.
Lefau joined the Casey Demons in 2017, but Australian Rules football wasn’t always his sport of choice.
With a multicultural background, Lefau was born into rugby – and born overseas.
“I was born in New Zealand,” Lefau told Melbourne Media.
“My dad is Samoan and my mum is a New Zealander.”
With a childhood in New Zealand, he developed a strong passion for rugby.
“I played rugby all my life,” Lefau said.
But in 2012, Lefau made the brave move to pack up his backs and cross the shores to Australia, where a passion for football soon followed.
“I came over for college and started playing footy the year after I moved here,” he said.
“In New Zealand they have an intermediate, so in year 7 and year 8, that’s in between primary and college.
“My dad was already living here, so I said I would move over for college because I knew there was stuff for me to do over here in Australia.”
But before his football opportunities arose, Lefau had the chance to improve his rugby craft at the Melbourne Storm.
“I was on the development program,” he said.
“I was on it for a couple of years doing the under 16’s and the 18’s, then after that I switched over to football completely because I was playing both.”
Rugby and football are equally demanding, and for two seasons, Lefau juggled both games simultaneously, eventually wearing himself out.
“I was playing rugby on a Saturday and then I would go play footy on the Sunday,” Lefau said.
“Then the next year when I did it I was playing both footy and rugby on Saturday’s.
“I got gassed out after that and decided I couldn’t do both anymore, it was tiring.”
So from that point, Lefau decided to pursue a football career, and quickly adapted his skills.
But it wasn’t all smooth sailing for Lefau.
“I went down to one training session [at Gippsland Power} and I said to myself I wasn’t ready for it – I barely understand the game,” Lefau said.
“I played under my local coach for the next couple of years and I said to him I’d rather just go straight to where the older guys are, the bigger dudes.
“I don’t know why I said it, but that’s just how I felt.
“So I asked where the closest one to my house was and they said it was Casey.
“So we gave them a call … and I was invited to the pre season.”
With a rugby background, Lefau wasn’t intimidated by the bigger bodies in the VFL and enjoyed the physicality of the competition.
At just 19 years of age Lefau is still in the early stages of his career, but he has already been able to implement some rugby traits to his game.
“In rugby I was always intense, always on the move, never slowing down, so I like to bring that especially when I play forward,” he said.
“I like to base myself on a real pressure player, an impact player.
“So I try to keep it alive the whole time.
“I like to think I bring that intensity over to the game.”
While Lefau is enjoying his time playing in Melbourne, he recently had the opportunity to head home and represent AFL New Zealand for a second time.
The exhibition match against the Australian Institute of Sport took place at Westpac Stadium in Wellington, allowing Lefau to have a run around with some close mates and teach some tricks he’s picked up since joining Casey.
“It was wonderful,” he said.
“I always love going back there and getting around the guys who are new to footy.
“I’m still pretty fresh to footy on my own but it’s good to have a chat to them and show them what it’s like here in Melbourne.”
AFLNZ were unable to register a win, but it was an experience Lefau didn’t take for granted.
“We played alright for about a half but most of the boys were new to playing that much footy,” he said.
There are modified rules for those who play football overseas, with just 18 minutes of play per quarter in New Zealand.
“We played good in the first half, but all the New Zealand players gassed out and they (the AIS) ran circles around us in the second half,” Lefau said.
The 195cm forward has since returned to Victoria, pulling on the the Casey guernsey against Geelong in round five, after making three appearances for the Demons in his debut season last year.
As he continues to grow within the sport, Lefau is looking to put some consistent form together in the VFL and take the next step in his football career in the coming years.
“I’m trying to get to the AFL, that’s obviously my goal,” Lefau said.
“But I know whatever I do I can do it at the best level.
“I believe in myself that I can do that.
“So I wouldn’t say it’s a long term goal because I really want to be trying for it, but I definitely want to be there in the next couple of years and try to develop myself.”
Story – www.melbournefc.com.au