'Safe and sound' - Fekitoa finally hears from mum in Tonga

Source: 1News

Former All Black Malakai Fekitoa has finally had his worries eased after hearing from his mum in Tonga, more than a week after the kingdom was hit by a volcanic eruption and tsunami.

Malakai Fekitoa is tackled while representing Tonga at the Olympic Sevens qualifiers.

Fekitoa, like many Tongans overseas, has been anxiously holding out for news ever since the eruption of Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Ha'apai and the destructive tsunami that followed it.

While the midfielder had managed to touch base with his sisters on Tonga's main island, limited communications in the region meant he was yet to hear from his mother and other family who were located in the outer islands.

Eighty-five per cent of the kingdom's population have been impacted by the eruption and tsunami.

Thankfully, a phone call finally got through on Thursday, Fekitoa revealed on social media.

“Update from Tonga,” Fekitoa wrote.

“I just spoke to my mum on a satellite phone. She’s OK and everyone back home are safe and sound.”

Fekitoa said in a feature with his UK club Wasps he was left feeling helpless and anxious after the eruption.

”Honestly, it’s been really, really tough trying to speak to my family, trying to call my mum, and also watching the news at the same time," he said.

”It’s one of the most difficult times I’ve had in a very long time. It’s been tough, sleepless at times in some nights. It’s very hard to cope not knowing what’s happening out there.

“Every time I get time off from training I get my phone and start ringing... obviously nothing in the past few days.”

However, Fekitoa has still managed to make an impact from the other side of the world with the former All Black managing to crowdfund $106,000 for the relief effort online through a GoFundMe page.

Wasps said they would also back Fekitoa's efforts.

“As we await more news, the club has decided to support Malakai’s fundraising efforts by donating 20 per cent of all match ticket revenue from our Saracens match on Sunday January 30 to the GoFundMe page which has been set up by Malakai to help get aid to where it is needed most,” Wasps chief executive Stephen Vaughan said in a statement.

Fekitoa is one of many Pacific players who were ready to embrace World Rugby's eligibility law change, which will allow players to change allegiances if they were born in the country they want to represent or have a parent or grandparent born there.

Having previously played for the All Blacks, Fekitoa is now looking to play at the 2023 Rugby World Cup with Tonga's 'Ikali Tahi, a move he said he made for "the right reasons".

"There are a lot of Tongans in the current team and Samoans and they know what it is like. They know it is all about the families and the culture. I don't gain anything from going back - we don't get paid a lot of money or anything.

"But I am going for the right reason, to give back, and I think those guys are happy for me."