Pele Junior Vaigalu follows in footsteps of famous uncle

PJ Vaigalu has made the NSW under 16's squad. Picture: Simon Bennett
PJ Vaigalu has made the NSW under 16's squad. Picture: Simon Bennett

Parramatta Eels Harold Matthews forward Pele Junior Vaigalu wants to follow in the footsteps of his uncle when he represents the NSW Under-16s Player Pathway squad on Wednesday.

Vaigalu's uncle is none other than Socceroos legend Tim Cahill.

Last week Australia's all-time leading goal scorer congratulated the 16-year-old on making the Blues team to take on Queensland in the curtain-raiser to the opening State of Origin at ANZ Stadium.

"What an amazing season he had with Parramatta and, more importantly, how he has matured as an athlete and person; proud of you my man," Cahill wrote on Instagram.

PJ was part of the undefeated Eels under-16s team that lost the grand final to Cronulla.

He will be joined in the Blues team by teammates Alex Seve, Josh Curran, Tui Afualo and Ethan Parry.

They will square off against a junior Maroons team that will be looking to build on last year's 20-18 victory and also includes Eels representative player Travis Turnbull.

Alex Seve and Tui Afualo from Paramatta  made the NSW Under 16's squad. Picture: Simon Bennett

Alex Seve and Tui Afualo from Paramatta made the NSW Under 16's squad. Picture: Simon Bennett

For Vaigalu it is a dream come true to pull on the sky blue and walk in the footsteps of the legends who have graced ANZ Stadium.

And he knows just who to ask for advice about performing on the big stage.

"It's always a good conversation when I talk to my uncle," said Vaigalu, who last year made the NSW under-15 Combined High School team.

"He always gives me support and advice and tells me to give 100 per cent.

"He always tells me to give effort on effort and play to the final whistle.

"And that's what I am going to do on Wednesday night," Vaigalu said.

Normally a back-rower, the John Edmondson High School student will play in the front row for NSW.

Alongside him will be his Eels and Cabramatta teammates Alex Seve and Tui Afualo.

Both are no strangers to pulling on the sky blue, having made the under-15 NSW Combined High Schools team last year.

Afualo, who also made the Australian under-15 merit team, got the news he had made the team from a very special person.

"Brad Fittler rang me and told me I made the team," Afualo said. "I was shocked and couldn't believe it and I can't wait to get out there."

The Eels will have one player in the main game with Will Hopoate selected on the wing for NSW.

He will face a tough assignment marking prolific try-scorer Darius Boyd.

"It's definitely very exciting to be a part of it and surprising at the same time," Hopoate said.

"I'm still a bit surprised at the call as I don't think I've been playing my best footy.

"But I'm grateful and I want to show that on Wednesday night."

Hopoate was missing on representative duty as the Eels lost their second close game in succession against the Rabbitohs 14-12.

This week they play local rivals Penrith at Pepper Stadium on Friday night.

This story Blues junior follows in the footsteps of famous family member " first appeared on Parramatta Sun.

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