The 26-year old spoke with Israel Dagg on Sky Sport’s Investec Super Rugby Isolation Nation about switching from rugby league to union. Laumape used to play 1st XV rugby for Palmerston North Boys High School at 12.30 and then jump in the car and head straight to his rugby league game for a 2.45pm kick off.
“When I was at school my two older brothers played league, so I just played with them. One day, one of the Warriors scouts said to come and play in this team that were playing Counties Manukau and that I was going to come up against these two centres who were really sharp. The guy I ended up marking was Roger [Tuivasa-Sheck].”
The hard-hitting centre made 30 appearances for the Warriors in the NRL between 2013 and 2015. He said he enjoyed his time at the Warriors, and he still has a lot of friends from league, but he wished he had the work ethic and mindset that he has now.
“When I was at the Warriors, I was just happy to be there. Being a poor kid and then all of a sudden you have some money. But I always knew I was going to come back to rugby one day.”
Laumape played New Zealand Schools rugby alongside the likes of Ardie Savea, Joe Webber, Lolagi Visinia and Patrick Tuipulotu. His rugby league fate was sealed when he tore his ACL again in 2015.
“There were a lot of players who were coming to the Warriors like Roger and Issac Luke, so they had to release some players. The coach at the time said to me I could leave if I wanted to, even though I had another year on my contract. My son was just about to come into my life, and I was like I need to take myself seriously or I’ll have no job.
“So, I rang my agent straight away and said the Warriors are looking at letting me go, can you hit up the Hurricanes. The next day they said they were keen to have me. I’m a big believer that everything happens for a reason, because Ma’a and Conrad were leaving, so two midfield positions had opened up and I haven’t looked back since.”
The 13-Test All Black made a strong start to the Super Rugby season with the Hurricanes, making 58 carries, 302 metres, beating 23 defenders and scoring two tries in six games. He said trying to make his family happy and providing a better life for them is what motivates him every day.
“Hopefully when this is all said and done, I have something to show. When we were growing up it was hard to get on school trips because we didn’t have the money. I saw rugby as an opportunity to help my Mum and Dad. For me, I play hard and train hard so that whatever my kids want, I’m there financially and I’m in a place where they don’t have to worry about the struggles that I had growing up. That’s the reason why I train hard.”
Catch Investec Super Rugby Isolation Nation on Sky Sport 1 every Wednesday and Sunday at 7.30pm.