Indigenous people are over-represented as professional players in many sporting codes, and recently a trend has developed whereby Indigenous athletes are choosing to play internationally for their heritage nations as opposed to the top-tier countries they reside in. With regard to rugby league and rugby union, many of these athletes are Pasifika who have had minimal exposure to their heritage nations, being born and raised in, for example, Aotearoa New Zealand, Australia or the United States. Nevertheless, this cohort is increasingly choosing to play for their heritage nations, despite the substantial cut in pay and available resources this decision entails. Throughout this commentary, these athletes are not viewed as mere individuals. Instead, we acknowledge their relationality—that is, the fact that they are intertwined in collective networks of family and nationhood. As researchers from the Pasifika community, we explore the factors which contribute to Pasifika athletes choosing to play for their heritage nations. By analysing the rise of Mate Ma‘a Tonga, Tonga’s national rugby league team, we aim to gain a deeper understanding of the cultural pride—the connection to family and heritage nation—that drives these athletes to play for this team, and the subsequent implications for wellbeing and performance.