HOUSTON — He is worth his weight in gold, the Houston SaberCats will tell you. But Osea Kolinisau is also connected to another form of currency.
"What’s that mean to you?” asked KHOU 11 News Sports Anchor Jason Bristol, while handing a bill to the SaberCats player. “Dude,” replied Kolinisau. “It means a lot – on what we’ve achieved as a team.”
Kolinisau pictured on Fiji’s seven-dollar bill. How does that happen?
It goes back to the ‘we’ he just mentioned. “We talked about it, before going to the Olympics about having our own legacy,” he said.
That legacy is a small nation celebrating its first-ever Olympic gold medal.
Kolinsau was the captain of Fiji’s national rugby team which won gold at the Rio Olympics in rugby sevens; a faster version of rugby with seven guys on a side playing seven minute halves.
Hence, the $7 bill issued by Fiji last year to commemorate this momentous accomplishment.
It features Kolinisau on the font of the bill, along with head coach Ben Ryan who's shown overseeing one of the squad’s grueling training sessions along the Fijian sand dunes.
"Do you think that looks like you (on the bill)?" wondered Bristol. "On the other side there?"
"Ah, probably if I cut my hair!" joked Kolinisau.
The SaberCats don’t need Kolinisau to change one bit. His experience has been invaluable since day one, says Houston head coach Justin Fitzpatrick. “I was bowled over by his enthusiasm; his passion for the game; how he wanted to share that, which is incredibly important to me and the organization," said Fitzpatrick.
The SaberCats open their Major League Rugby season on April 21 against New Orleans.
Indeed, transitioning from playing to someday coaching, is a reason why Kolinisau came here to Houston.
It’s good to know someone important enough to be featured on a bill worth seven dollars, still has a cents of humor.
“Do you know any other players that are on currency?” asked Bristol.
"Yeah, all these players," joked Kolinisau, pointing to the team photo on the back of the bill.
That’s a great answer.
See also: Rugby Laws: SaberCats tackle tackling