One of the new faces at Racing Metro 92 this week is former All Black Casey Laulala. After leaving his mark at the Crusaders, Cardiff and Munster at 32 years of age, the scintillating Samoan centre is excited about his future with the Ciel et Blanc.
Casey, first of all welcome to the club. But what made you chose to come and play for Racing?
First of all, even before I left New Zealand to come overseas, way back in 2009 Racing wanted me to come and play here. Since then I have always followed the club with interest, I’ve done a bit of research on the history of the club, how they played the (1990) final with pink bow ties and so on. My wife and I love Paris, we enjoy the life style here, so when the opportunity came when I was in Munster, obviously it was a no-brainer!
Was Ronan O’Gara also a factor in your decision?
I talked to him about where the club is heading. I know Ronan well, he’s a good friend of mine, as we all know he’s a very determined and passionate fellow, and he also helped make this move possible. We only played one year together, but as I lived in Cork, I got to see him more than the Limerick lads. And I think enjoys my banter. (Laughs)
You first rose to prominence by being picked for the All Blacks at the age of 22 in 2003? Do you regret not having played more international rugby?
2003, it seems such a long time ago now! (Laughs) I often get asked if I regret not playing more tests for the All Blacks. But I don’t have any regrets. In a way it’s more satisfying, because I know I gave it everything back home, I thought I played some good rugby when I won the title with the Crusaders, but in the end it didn’t work out in terms of playing more tests. Also, once you have a family, your priorities change, so for me it was a matter of coming over to Europe and trying to look after the family at the same time.
So how are you adapting to your first few days with Racing?
It’s incredible! Maybe the lads who have been here for a while take it for granted, but when you come in to a set-up like this it’s just an amazing facility. The club is obviously ambitious, they want to do well, and they have provided these fantastic facilities. It makes you want to come to work and give it your best. With all the quality players here, with my history with Jamie Roberts together at Cardiff, when the opportunity came to play for Racing, I jumped at it. So here I am, looking forward to the coming season, I can’t wait to get started!
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Saturday 26th August