We caught up with Salford Red Devils forward, Lama Tasi about getting back in touch with his faith and how much he loves Super league!
What was your first rugby experience that you remember?
I was nine years old and my neighbours were playing at a local rugby league club. Just by coincidence they said to come along and see if you like it, I have never looked back ever since. I thank my neighbours for that and I thought, yeah I am alright at this sport so stuck at it. I am grateful for the opportunity to play professional rugby and my family has been a big part of that.
So a big recent move for you, re-joining Salford from St Helens, what brought you back?
I have got some very close friends at Salford and they have been very good to me. I wasn’t having a good time at St Helens and it was the first offer that came in, the coach has always believed in me and so I am grateful for the opportunity to come back. Obviously having Junior (Sa’u) there, who is like an older brother to me made it an easy decision. It was an easy transition and we have a good group of boys.
Your head coach, Ian Watson, said of you that you could become the best front rower in the Super League, what do you think you need to improve about your game, to reach that?
Play consistent footie, week in week out and just get back to enjoying it. When I am smiling, and doing what I love then that’s when I know I am at my best. Winning helps team morale but also your own self-confidence, winning will get me back to where I need to be.
Could you tell us how you came to know God for yourself?
Growing up, we were always massively into church and we always went to a Samoan-based church. My dad’s mum lived by the bible, woke up praying and went to bed praying, she’d fast and she led our family in our belief.
You’re renowned as a big hitter, is that the side of the game you enjoy the most?
Yes, I want to get back to doing what I do best, I have been missing it a bit at times and I reckon it’s down to confidence and believing in yourself. I do enjoy the big collisions and the contact, I need to get back into it.
When you look back at your time playing with Sydney and Brisbane, is the rugby culture different in Australia, compared with the UK?
It is a different style of Rugby, back home it is quicker but here it is more physical. It’s just a different style of league, obviously, I haven’t been in the NRL for four years so there will have been some changes but I love the Super League crowds better than in the NRL, that’s for sure. They are more passionate and more vocal. I love their chants, especially when you hear chants about yourself, that’s pretty cool whilst you are playing. It’s one of those moments where you are grateful to the man above, for blessing me with this talent.
If you could play alongside any player, past or present, who would you want to play alongside?
That’s a tough question, there are so many. One person I’d love to play with is Ruben Wiki, just because of the way that he carried himself on and off the field. He is a massive role mode to the Samoan community and I think has just been inducted into the New Zealand Hall Of Fame, I always idolised him growing up because off the field he was the most humble and caring person.
Do you see your talent as a gift from God?
They work hand in hand, but it is more God’s blessing for sure, not everyone is born with the talent to play professional sport. If it was easy, everyone would be doing it so I always pray because none of this would be possible without the big man.
Ever thought about trying your luck at rugby union?
I played union in school for five years. Playing first fifteens was probably one of the highlights of my school footie and I made some rep teams too which was good. However, I have always been a ‘leaguey’ through and through. I guess when you have been brought up in the sport and love it that much, union is too stop-start for my liking.
How do you use the platform that God has given you to point people to him?
It’s about playing hard and tough but also being humble with the talent that I have been given. I have always hated arrogance and I guess it’s about respect, I believe that respect takes you a long way in life.
Describe what it was like making your debut for Samoa, against such big rivals in Tonga?
For sure, apart from my NRL debut it was probably the proudest moment of my career so far, playing for Samoa, representing my parents and their heritage was an honour and a privilege. We got flogged that day and I was a young forward with all of these big names, I was a bit overwhelmed because I had these big-name players to look up to. I didn’t really play my own game that night but you learn as you go, you are always learning. I just hope that one day I will get to put on the shirt again. In my position there are heaps of good front rowers, for me to even get a look in for the Samoan World Cup team I need to be making some noise and killing it in the Super League.