14/04/2024
Mykelti Lefau. Picture: Richmond FC

Mykelti Lefau. Picture: Richmond FC

At 26 years of age, powerful VFL utility Mykelti Lefau has broken through for his first AFL opportunity, being selected by Richmond on the final day of the AFL’s Supplementary Selection Period (SSP).

After being in the club’s VFL program for the last two seasons, Richmond liked what they saw before selecting him.

“Mykelti has not put a foot wrong since he came to our club and has shown across the past three months that he can blossom in a professional environment. We are excited to be adding him to our AFL list,” Richmond’s recruiting manager Matt Clarke said.

The news caps off a rollercoaster journey for Lefau, with his endeavours to play sport at the highest level taking him all around the world. He is a former Melbourne Storm development squad NRL player, with his family encouraging him to pursue a professional Rugby career in his younger years.

After only arriving in Australia in 2012, Lefau began to pick up learning the game of Aussie rules at school with his mates, before bursting onto the scene as a potential future AFL player after kicking an astonishing 25 goals in the Under 19’s for St Kilda City in 2016.

From there he signed with the Casey Demons in the VFL in 2017, featuring in their Grand Final side in the following year. Fast forward six years and the 195cm, strongly built New Zealander is officially an AFL player.

The 26-year-old has certainly faced his fair share of challenges. After being picked up by Richmond’s VFL team at the end of 2021, following another stint at his old club St Kilda City during the Covid-19 pandemic, Lefau unfortunately suffered a ruptured ACL early in the 2022 VFL season.

That didn’t stop his AFL dream right there though, returning to the side midway through the 2023 season, before playing some wonderful football to help firm for an AFL opportunity at the tigers.

Mat Clarke said that Lefau had put in some significant work to be able to be given the opportunity of achieving his AFL dream.

“Mykelti had worked hard to put himself in this position, from learning the game as a teenager to coming back from a serious injury last year,” he said.

The 26-year-old broke down with emotion after calling his parents upon hearing the news.

“I wasn’t sure how to tell you. That’s all for you guys, I love you guys, that’s all for you, you guys got me here” Lefau said while wiping back tears.

His father was also overcome with emotion and immensely proud of his son’s journey towards reaching the AFL.

“Oh… woooo. Let’s go. I’m so proud of you, the world’s going to see exactly what your made of man, far-out,” he said.

“It’s all you, we support you all the way. You deserve it son and you’ve worked hard your whole life, you sacrificed Rugby league, you just said you want to play footy and you’ve stuck to your guns and we’re proud of you for that.”

Lefau was stunned when he found out the news that he was becoming an AFL player, but also relieved after a stressful few days lead up.

“Oh, just speechless at the start and then just full of excitement, obviously just knowing what’s to come,” he said.

 “A lot of happiness because it just goes to show, all the support that my friends and family [have showed] and everyone around me, especially at the club, hasn’t gone for nothing.

“The nerves were still there because [it’s] obviously a pretty nerve-racking experience not knowing if I was going to get a contract or not.“

MORE NEWS

Murphy vows to ‘play his role’ off the back of new leadership opportunity

‘Let’s just rewrite our own story’: Tatum turnaround not complete yet

‘It definitely surprised me’: Milera humbled by unexpected leadership appointment

The chance to be at the club full-time and in a professional environment was critical to Lefau improving to a level where he could become an AFL footballer.

“The main one for me is just having all that time to do extra craft, that’s helped me improve so much, especially just all the learnings, like the game plan and being with the boys every day, getting those connections going.”

He has come from a longer way back then most to achieve his crack at the big time, having only discovered the game during lunchtimes at school with friends.

“I didn’t know what football was when I was younger, just playing with mates at school, that’s what got it going and then that’s where it really developed my hunger for the sport. [I’m] just grateful for all my friends that believed in me from day dot.

“I was sort of labelled as this and labelled as that, some people didn’t think of me as a footballer.

“I want to prove the people right, the ones that are around me, trying to support me. It was more for them and they’re the ones that I’m grateful for because they’re the ones that kept me on that track and showed that belief.”

The athletically gifted Kiwi has the ability to play all over the ground but has mainly been used as a power forward in recent times. He becomes just the fourth Richmond VFL player to graduate onto the club’s AFL list alongside current listed players James Trezise and Tylar Young, as well as Jake Aarts who previously played 42 games for the club.

Essendon’s Sam Durham, Hawthorn’s Massimo D’Ambrosio and former Bomber Garret McDonagh, have also been beneficiaries of Richmond’s successful VFL program.

Lefau won out in a two-man race against Western Australian prospect Mitch Schofield who also showed impressive signs during his time training with the club.

“Mitch should be very proud of how he went about training with us these past three months, particularly having moved across the country from Perth,” Clarke said.

“He gave us everything he had and has set himself up well for a strong season. We wish him well for what is to come in his football career.”

Subscribe to our newsletter!

About Author