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Rare feat awaits So'oialo

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Sportal.co.nz     03 Sep 2008     Getty Images

The big No.8 will skipper the All Blacks against Samoa in New Plymouth in a one-off Test match with usual captain Richie McCaw being rested due to injured ribs.

So'oialo said he feels enormously privileged to be given the captaincy which is made even more special given the team he will be playing.

"It's going to be huge really," said So'oialo.

"To get the honour of captaining the All Blacks, you don't get the honour of doing that very often and to captain in against the team from where you're born is an even bigger honour."

So'oialo, who will run out for his 50th Test for the All Blacks, was born in Moto'otua, Samoa, in 1979 before moving to New Zealand when he was five years old.

Although Samoan-born, So'oialo has no confusion as to where his loyalty lies but said there will be a mixed bag of supporters back in Samoa.

"I was pretty young when I came over so I've spent a majority if my time in New Zealand," he said.

"I've still got a lot of relatives back home so I think they'll be supporting both teams."

Since making his All Black debut in 2002, So'oialo has steadily moved up the ranks in both domestic and international rugby.

Although this will be his fourth Test as All Blacks captain, So'oialo has skippered the Hurricanes in the Rebel Sport Super 14 and Wellington in the Air New Zealand Cup for a number of years and has become an integral leader in New Zealand rugby.

He is also not the only So'oialo to have earned international honours as his older brother Steven has represented Samoa in 38 games at halfback.

Although he was a member of the Samoan squad in the Rugby World Cup last year, Steven has not travelled to New Plymouth with his national side as he fulfils his duties for his English club Harlequins.

Although they have spoken this week, there has been no trash talk between the two, as Rodney said their conversations always tended to avoid rugby.

"We don't really talk too much about rugby, it's something we both love to do but when we talk to each other it's about other stuff and we leave rugby alone," he said.