Sopoaga rel­ishes op­por­tu­ni­ties over­seas con­tract will bring fam­ily

Weekend Herald - - Your Sporting Weekend -

Lima Sopoaga ad­mits he went to school to play rugby and eat his lunch. He saw the sport as his ticket to po­ten­tially mak­ing a bet­ter life.

So when the op­por­tu­nity to ac­cept a lu­cra­tive of­fer to con­tinue his ca­reer in Eng­land came, he made the de­ci­sion to do what was best for his fam­ily — leav­ing the All Blacks dream be­hind.

Speaking to The Times, Sopoaga said the con­tract could change not just his own life, but a few lives.

“To come over here, to up­root my part­ner [Miriam] and daugh­ter [Milla, aged 1 was a very big de­ci­sion,” he said. “But in the long run, it will be the right one.

“Guys in New Zealand who are sec­ond or third string, we're not get­ting paid the same as the Beau­den Bar­retts. I fell into that cat­e­gory. I've no qualms about it, that's the way it goes. Now, if I'm smart and make the right choices, if I'm not buy­ing stupid cars and stuff like that, this money will be put to good use . . . Who wouldn't want that for their fam­ily?

“Things were tight at home and I can re­mem­ber times when mum and dad strug­gled. But we got through, our house was filled with love. I'm not just play­ing for my­self over here. It's about mak­ing a bet­ter life for my fam­ily, mak­ing mum and dad's life a bit eas­ier, brothers and sis­ters, nieces and neph­ews.”

Sopoaga left New Zealand at the end of this year's Su­per Rugby sea­son with 16 test caps for the All Blacks and 88 matches for the High­landers to take up a2½-year deal with Wasps, re­port­edly worth £1.5m (NZ$3,063,512).

The 27-year-old said now that he was in­el­i­gi­ble to rep­re­sent the All Blacks, he was en­joy­ing watch­ing them play from the per­spec­tive of a fan. How­ever, he was grate­ful for the op­por­tu­ni­ties he had to live out his dream and play in the black jersey.

“If some­one had said to me when I was 8 years old that I was go­ing to play 16 times for the All Blacks, start­ing twice, that would have been enough for me. I got to do what many peo­ple walk­ing this Earth aren't able to do — that's to achieve their dreams.”

Sopoaga has found plenty to en­joy al­ready in a short time in Eng­land, giv­ing the ex­am­ple of the price of avo­ca­dos as a big tick in the pros col­umn.

“I couldn't be­lieve it, it's about 50p (NZ$1) for an av­o­cado. That would cost six times as much back home.

“We want to make the most of our op­por­tu­nity here, to ex­pe­ri­ence a new cul­ture in Eng­land, to learn a new lan­guage, to get to know new peo­ple.

“I've been to New­cas­tle re­cently,” he ex­plained. “I couldn't un­der­stand a word any­one said. I tried to order some food and it wasn't re­ally hap­pen­ing. I got in an Uber, I couldn't un­der­stand the driver and we both just ended up laugh­ing.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.