Jack Lam hopes his decision to place national pride ahead of personal gain can spark lasting change for Samoa.
Back-row forward Lam was released by Premiership club Bristol, and then as a free agent he rejected a lucrative move to France to head instead to the Rugby World Cup.
The club contracts on offer in France had strings attached. The deals were conditional on Lam missing the World Cup in Japan with his national side.
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The 31-year-old made the brave, and financially costly, decision to put Samoa first and hopes such principled stands will shine a light on the murkier concerns for Pacific Islands talents.
“There were a couple of contracts in France that I could’ve taken but they had the condition that I had to turn down playing for Samoa in the World Cup and in the future as well,” said Lam.
“I just couldn’t do that to myself and the jersey and it just didn’t cross my mind; it was a no-brainer.”
Samoa arrived in Japan without a clutch of Europe-based stars who, just like Lam, were told heading to the World Cup would jeopardise their club futures.
Many of the Pacific Islands’ best players head abroad to maximise their earning potential in order to provide for entire village communities, not just an extended family.