For many, 2020 has been a year to forget. With the Covid-19 pandemic spreading around the world, people have seen loved ones fall ill, and experienced job losses and a range of uncomfortable situations.
Auckland rugby coach Alama Ieremia has seen the impact of the virus at a number of levels and, after his side punched their ticket to the Mitre 10 Cup Premiership final on Saturday with a 23-18 win over Waikato, was overcome with emotion.
“I had a brother that lost his job due to Covid-19; I’ve got a father who’s struggled to stay alive – he’s been crook for a long time; he’s here in New Zealand, can’t get back to Samoa, and he’s been here supporting this team right from the start,” Ieremia said.
“I’m not the only one – that’s only my story. There are families that are obviously going under a lot of financial strain as well. I have staff that are working for free, they can’t 100 per cent put bread and butter on the table for their families, and they’ve committed a lot to this team.
“It puts it in perspective what we do so I just want to say thanks to everyone and hope the boys do it for them.”
Auckland will host the final at Eden Park next weekend, with free entry for fans wanting to get down and take in the action live.
Ieremia explained the union wanted to give back to the community.
“We certainly want to make sure this team gives back,” Ieremia said. “I mentioned earlier in the week that the value of this team was really inspiring our community. It will be a very emotional week for a lot of the players because everyone’s had a different story around their families, around club rugby, around friends that have been affected by Covid-19.
“We’ve all got our own stories, so I’d like to think that the team will probably repay a lot of that faith and support to make us do what we do. Hopefully we can say thanks to whoever turns up. For us to be there in the first place, there’s probably a little more emotion around it.
“I’m very proud of the team and a lot of people behind the scenes; a lot unseen has gone on to achieve what we’ve done, and I’d like to think we can finish it on a high.”
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