Thretton takes milestone in his stride

(Rugby News Service) Thursday 6 September 2007
By Joel Fitzpatrick
From Lille
Thretton takes milestone in his stride
The USA's Thretton Palamo has played age-group rugby for Samoa

LILLE, 5 September - Most players would be daunted by the prospect of being the youngest player to ever have played at a IRB Rugby World Cup but the USA's Thretton Palamo is taking it all in his enormous stride.

If the 102kg, 192cm centre takes the field during the USA’s game against England on Saturday night he will be 68 days younger than the current record holder, Argentina’s Federico Mendez, who made his debut in 1991.

Belying his 18 years and 348 days, Palamo is surprisingly calm about the feat, "Ever since I began playing I have always been the youngest player, so I’m just used to it. It is no big surprise to me actually," he said.

His father, Arona Palamo, was a well known rugby player in his homeland of Samoa but he decided to move to the USA when he saw the lack of opportunities in the small pacific island.

"Growing up he saw a lot of players not making any money so the only reason why he didn’t get that big was that he decided to quit to go to the States and take up an (academic) scholarship," he said.

Although he was born in the USA, Palamo has played for Samoa at Under 19 level and in Sevens sides but says he never really considered playing for the Samoa national team.

"Since I was born and raised in the States I thought it would only be right that I play for the country.

"They give me a hard time, the Samoan team, but they are cool, real down to earth. I figure there is not that many opportunities for Samoan players to get outside of the country, so if I play for the USA, they will just bring up another kid, to give a chance to someone else."

A talented all-round athlete, he has played running back and line back in high school American football since he was 16 years old, and given rugby’s lesser status in the USA he has naturally been a target for the college scouts.

But thankfully for the 15-a-side game he is now "leaning towards rugby more."

"I like both, both games are similar, both physical, a lot of team bonding and team effort," he said.

RNS jf/mp