Manchester: Chances are Luama Papalii will cry the next time she speaks to her son Josh, who is on the verge of making his Australian debut against Fiji this weekend.
Luama sheds a tear basically every day as her eldest son chews up his internet data allocation to touch base with his family in Canberra. By his own admission the Raiders hard man is homesick as he embarks on his first Kangaroo tour. Papalii, 21, lives with his parents Luama and Patrick , and his two younger brothers and sister.
"It doesn't matter where I am or how long I am away for, I am always homesick," Papalii said. "My parents have always been there but they aren't here to share this special time. We have to make sacrifices, the rewards come from the sacrifice. I will probably live my parents for the rest of my life."
It's not the first time Papalii has had an extended stay away from the family home. He moved from Logan in Queensland to Canberra when he first signed with the Raiders at 16 and lived alone for two years before relocating his family to the nation's capital.
Now, on the verge of a Test debut, Papalii has no doubts what his mum's reaction will be when he finally breaks the news.
"She definitely will cry," Papalii said. "She is not a big fan of [me playing footy]. She always tells me to wear shoulder pads and mouthguards. She reminds me each game to put my mouthguard and shoulder pads in my bag – but I don't even have that stuff. Mothers will be mothers. If I could wear a helmet out there I would have to, it's all love."
His mother's concern would have only been exacerbated when – in just his first night in Manchester – he was robbed withdrawing about £200 out of an ATM. Papalii was "scared" after the incident but it hasn't stopped him from walking alone when the Kangaroos returned to Manchester this week. "I was in the wrong place at the wrong time," Papalii said. "That happens everywhere. "I'm alright. I'm over it now but at the time I was pretty scared . . . The boys have helped me put it behind me."
Australian selection was never at the forefront of Papalii's mind this year. So much so that when he was told he was World Cup bound by Raiders media manager Ben Pollack, he assumed it was for Samoa. After making his Origin debut this year, there is no doubting that 2013 has been a successful season for Papalii.
But success isn't always defined by on-field success. "I actually get breakfast made for me every morning here," he said with a beaming smile. "It's pretty impressive. The boys are containing me [at the buffet] at the moment."
Papalii's rise through the representative ranks is the very reason there was a tug of war for his services midway through this season. He was poised to join Ricky Stuart at Parramatta but back-flipped on the deal, opting to remain at Canberra.
With Stuart now the Raiders' coach Papalii said there was no ill-will between the duo.
"It wasn't awkward," Papalii said of the pair's first meeting since his backflip. "I understand his decision because I had to do it as well. I made sure that I mentioned why I had to do what I had to do and he said the same thing. Sometimes you have to cop it from the outside for them to understand what you're doing."
After missing selection in Australia's opening pool game against England, Papalii is set to make his Test debut when Australia play Fiji on Saturday (Sunday, 7am AEDT).