All Blacks’ Laulala has much to prove
NEW Zealand prop Nepo Laulala will have something to prove when he lines up against France today after being told last year that he would never play rugby again.
The 26-year-old tighthead suffered a knee injury last year that not only interrupted his 10-test international career but almost brought the curtain down on his playing days.
Now the Samoan-born Chiefs front-rower is determined to show he’s a better player than he was before his injury.
“It was really tough, I actually didn’t really think I’d get back here,” he admitted.
“It didn’t really help because my doctor told me he didn’t think I’d play again.
“I had to get over that. It was a tough road back.”
But the desire to silence the doubters was one of the main motivating factors.
“It was a massive injury, I think it was one of worst he [the doctor] had ever seen – that’s not really a thing you want to hear from your doctor.
“I wanted to prove that I could make it back; I wanted to prove that doctor wrong; I was really angry after that; after that I never saw him again!”
Laulala will be cheered on at the Stade de France by his All Black international brother Casey, 35, who now plays his club rugby in Paris for Racing 92 after spells at Cardiff Blues and Munster.
“It’s always good to see Casey. We hardly see him back home. We’ve been catching up the past couple of days,” Nepo Laulala said.
“He was always there for me. He always texts me, gives me little messages that keep me up. He’s helped me through heaps. He’s part of my main reason of choosing this pathway, trying to make it big.
“He paved the way for my career. He’s been a big part of my career, definitely. He made us believe it’s possible to achieve it.
“Growing up on the island, we’re very casual there, we don’t really do much, almost too casual!
“He just made us believe we’re capable of more than we think.”
New Zealand coach Steve Hansen says Laulala will bring mobility and athleticism to his pack against the French, whom the All Blacks beat 24-19 a year ago.
“He’s another one who’s got a bit of understanding about what’s needed,” Hansen said. – AFP