Mar 07, 2019

Three Words with Fiao’o Faamausili

'Strong', 'family' and 'serve' are words that have guided one of the world’s most successful rugby players through a career spanning two decades.
by Linda Murphyeditor

Fiao’o Faamausili’s recent retirement from the New Zealand Black Ferns has given the 38-year-old the space to reflect on an incomparable athletic career that saw her win four rugby World Cups, earn 57 international caps and develop into a formidable leader both on the field as Black Ferns Captain and off the field, as a detective in the Manurewa police force.


“I have an acronym for my leadership style that I abide by, STRONG.” 
Fiao'o Faamausili

“I have an acronym for my leadership style that I abide by, STRONG. S being sharing the load. In order for things to work everyone has to buy into it. It’s always good to share the load because you get to see what other people are thinking as well.

Then you have T which is Trust. You’ve got to trust your players and they need to trust you. That comes together nicely with Respect which is the RYou’ve got to give respect to your players because that’s how you get respect. You’ve got to respect their backgrounds, respect their family – respect is massive.

O stands for Others. You always think about others first as a leader. As for myself, I always put everyone before myself. I always think about my team, I think about what the outcome is and I’m always thinking about others.

N is No Negativity – you can’t be negative, and you’ve got to remain calm as a leader. G is the last one and stands for Good Comms and Great Listener. You need both to be a leader.”

"I have an acronym for my leadership style that I abide by, STRONG."

Fiao'o Faamausili


“I’m from a family of eight and I’m the second to youngest, so leading came naturally for me. I led in primary school and then in college I was head girl, but it was always about leading through actions. I’m more talkative now than back in the day where I was just head-down-bum-up just doing the work. If you can lead that way and people follow, it’s quite powerful.

"It was always about leading through actions. If you can lead that way and people follow, it’s quite powerful."


My family made a lot of sacrifices to give us kids a better life. I was born in Samoa but moved to New Zealand when I was young. My brothers and sisters dropped out of school early to work for the younger ones to help us through. I look at what they have achieved through their work ethic and it makes me very proud.”

"Family is a big part of our team culture. If you do something wrong you’re not just letting yourself down, it’s your family name, it’s their name."

Fiao’o Faamausili

That’s why I’m the type of person that plays the game like it’s their last every time. I leave it all on the field. That’s how I want to be remembered.


“I always wanted to be a police officer from watching TV and movies but what I noticed is that rugby and policing have much in common. We both have our standards: professionalism, respect, honesty, empathy.

The two of them work hand in hand because we have the same purpose. I’m out there protecting and serving my country as a police officer, and I’m also serving my country in the black jersey.

"I always wanted to wear the black jersey, but I didn’t need the title of captain to show my leadership on the field."


It never crossed my mind to be captain of the Black Ferns. I always wanted to wear the black jersey and put my best foot forward in the jersey, but I didn’t need the title of captain to show my leadership on the field. I took on the role in 2012 but every time I did a talk I said my name but I never introduced myself as the captain. That’s just how I’ve always done it.”

"It’s been an honor and privilege and a true blessing to have captained those girls, but I always remind them, ‘We’re never above you, never below you but beside you.’ "

Fiao’o Faamausili

“It’s just been a big family of girls with a lot of love and respect and that’s just been amazing.”