The Rock's staggering act before Rugby League World Cup final

Pictured ledft, Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson shares a rousing message for Samoa ahead of the Rugby League World Cup final.
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson has shared a rousing message for Samoa ahead of the Rugby League World Cup final against Australia. Pic: Instagram/Getty

Samoa has been buoyed by some A-lister backing ahead of Sunday morning's (AEDT) Rugby League World Cup final against Australia, after a rousing message from Hollywood star, Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson.

The Samoans made history after becoming the first tier-two nation to qualify for the final of the World Cup and the first nation outside of Australia, New Zealand or Great Britain/England to feature in the decider since 1968.

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Having defeated England thanks to a Stephen Crichton field goal in a thrilling golden point semi-final triumph over hosts England, the Samoans go into the Old Trafford final as massive underdogs against Mal Meninga's Kangaroos side.

However, Samoa's players have been given an inspiring pep talk in the lead-up to the momentous match, with The Rock sharing a video message for captain Junior Paulo's side.

The former WWE wrestler-turned blockbuster film star is proud of his Samoan heritage and said the team's achievement filled him and the entire Pacific Island nation with pride.

"I am delivering the message with boundless love and boundless reverence and respect and boundless pride for my boys, my Usos, the Toa Samoa," The Rock said in a video to his 348 million Instagram followers.

"This is a big deal, they are making history in the world of sports, in the world of rugby. This is the first time that our country, our culture has ever gone to the final for any sport.

"I could not be more proud of them, we could not be more proud of them."

The Fast & Furious actor and former wrestler gave himself goosebumps with an address focusing on the importance of grit under pressure.

"I understand what it's like to have pressure. There's a few things I always think about. Number one is grit ... there's a term Fa'a Samoa," he said.

"My grandfather always taught me that Fa'a Samoa is proud of where you come from, who you are, what's in your blood, what's in your DNA.

"That's the thing that separates us from everyone else but it also means grit."

Johnson said Samoa had the chance to define their legacy this weekend in front of what is certain to be a packed house at Old Trafford on Saturday night.

"History is watching but our ancestors are watching so when you take that field this Saturday in Manchester and you have that grit and your DNA is full of our Samoan pride and culture and you think about that legacy," he said.

"There's two sides to legacy, number one is the side that you've already made history. The other side to legacy, and this is the special side, is when you take that field in Manchester, you leave it all out on the field.

"Grit, legacy, my Usos, I love you, I'm so proud of you."

Samoan players including Joseph Suaalii, Jarome Luai, Anthony Milford and Brian To'o thanked The Rock for his social media message.

Samoa huge underdogs against Australia

Australia are yet to lose at the tournament and are hoping to seal a 12th World Cup title, although Meninga says his side will need to match the passion from their underdog opponents.

"Our guys put their hands up to play for Australia. We are no less passionate than any other nation when we pull on that green and gold jersey," Meninga insisted.

"We still play with the passion and the commitment that is conducive to being an Australian."

Meninga has picked an unchanged side from the one that came from behind to beat New Zealand in the semi-final, as he looks to become the first coach since Bob Fulton to win two World Cups.

Seen here, Kangaroos coach Mal Meninga speaks to reporters at the Rugby League World Cup.
Kangaroos coach Mal Meninga has named an unchanged Australia side after their narrow semi-final victory against New Zealand. Pic: Getty

The Kangaroos mentor describes the expectation of being a successful Australian team as a "burden", reflected in the fact the green and gold have lost just one World Cup final (2008) in the NRL era.

Many - including bookmakers who have Samoa priced as huge $7 outsiders - expect Meninga's men to easily account for the Pacific Island nation.

Matt Parish's side are the first new nation into a World Cup final in 34 years and are likely to be greeted with support from the English fans, who bought tickets expecting their nation to be there.

Parish describes Samoa as a "little dot in the Pacific", so if that tiny nation can knock off the hosts after losing 60-6 to them in the tournament opener, then why not Australia too?

"That was the idea when all the boys made the pledge to play for Samoa," said Stephen Crichton. "We didn't want to compete, we wanted to make it to the top."

The irony of course will be that so many of this Samoan side have been born, raised or developed in Australia schools, junior clubs and NRL sides.

Samoans around the world have had street parades championing their players and the fact they have reached their first ever final.

"We've gone global and it means a lot for our boys to do it for the motherland and the people of Samoa. They've sold out of flags everywhere, they've gotten pretty crafty and just knitted red and blue together," Crichton said.

with AAP

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