Mention the name Ronaldo anywhere in the world and the answer you get will be of two footballers: Cristiano Ronaldo or the original one, Brazilian Ronaldo.
Now, however, United States rugby league has a Ronaldo in the ranks. This version is Ronaldo Mulitalo, who is representing the USA Hawks in rugby league nines competitions – including the World Cup – and making a name for himself in the game.
Mulitalo is New Zealand born and bred, but significantly his family history on his mother’s side is from American Samoa and that earned him the right to represent the United States at the Nines World Cup.
“The USA has always been a big influence on me,” Mulitano said in an interview about how it all came about. “When I saw them play, I thought, ‘That would be fun. It would be pretty cool, something different’.
“My whole family on my mum’s side are American Samoan and they’re all proud as well. It will be good to represent that side of them. Now I just need to get myself to the USA and experience [the country]. I can’t wait.”
Ronaldo’s road to representing the USA comes after a rapid rise into the ranks of Australia’s NRL, the leading rugby league competition in the world.
Having grown up in New Zealand where he started to play the game, he moved to Ipswich, a small town in Queensland, to begin his High School education.
Mulitalo quickly made his name for himself and joined the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks in Sydney as his NRL dream became a reality. He made his NRL debut at the age of 18 last year and made enough of an impression to peak interest from United States officials.
An enquiry into whether or not Mulitalo would have an interest in representing the star spangled banner came via a Facebook message and the rest, as they say, is history. The United States were coached by Australian Sean Rutgerson who knew all about this Ronaldo.
From that debut in the NRL to pulling on the USA jersey at the Nines World Cup, the flying wing or centre has had a dream last 12 months. Even losing all three World Cup games to Australia, New Zealand and Papau New Guineas couldn’t detract from the call up.
Mulitalo has made in impression in NRL this year too as his rise continues, but the bad news for US fans is that he has ambitions to play for Samoa and Australia in Rugby League World Cups of the future.