Back in 2008 when the All Blacks back decided to try something new, he moved halfway around the world to Sale Sharks in the hope that it would benefit his game. He took some time out to talk to Rugby World about his new venture, eating chips and gravy for the first time and his daughter, Astyn.
RUGBY WORLD: You’ve been at Sale a few weeks now. How are you settling in up in Manchester?
LUKE McALISTER: It’s gone really well. There’s a good bunch of the boys here and they’ve made me feel really welcome. I hang out with Lee Thomas quite a lot. We’ve just got on since I first arrived really and we have a lot in common. Everyone gets on with each other well so it’s pretty awesome in that regard. I’m still getting used to the whole of Manchester, though, and finding my way around, especially when I’m driving. Luckily, I’ve got satnav!
RW: So have you found a house?
LM: Yeah, I’m living in Hale, renting a nice town house. A few of the boys live round there, like Rory Lamont, so I can keep myself occupied. I need to buy myself an Xbox, though. I haven’t got one yet. I like war games like Halo.
RW: Have you had any problems with the local accents or northern slang?
LM: It hasn’t been too bad. It’s sometimes hard to understand Chris Mayor and Dean Schofield but other than that it’s been fine. I’m picking up a new word everyday. Today I learnt ‘reddot’, which means hot.
RW: A lot of the French players complain about the food in England. How have you found it?
LM: It’s been fine. I had chips and gravy for the first time the other day. That brought back childhood memories of growing up in Oldham!
RW: So are you going to treat yourself once a week?
LM: I can’t do that. We’re rugby players, we’ve got to be healthy.
RW: So who are the jokers at Sale?
LM: Rudi Keil is quite a character. He puts these fake teeth in his mouth that make them stick right out and pretends to be someone else. They just make his teeth look too big for his mouth and it sounds hilarious. The hardest I’ve ever laughed is when Rudi puts in his teeth.
Homesickness, Heights and Eva Mendes…
RW: Do you miss New Zealand?
LM: I miss my friends and family; the people. Ma’a Nonu is a good mate and he’s a real prankster, too. I’ve got a young daughter, Astyn, as well so I really miss her. She’s three-and-a-half now and I speak to her every day. She’s coming over in February. It’s tough being away from home and playing at this time of year is strange, but that’s why I’m here – to learn something different, adapt my game and play in a different environment.
RW: What’s the funniest thing you’ve seen or heard on the pitch?
LM: When I was playing in an U19s game, a guy kicked the ball backwards from the kick-off. That was pretty funny. It’s hard to think of something right now. If I had a few hours I could probably come up with something better.
RW: If your house was on fire, what three things would you save?
LM: Photos and my hard drive. I’m just getting some photos ready to send back to Astyn actually so she can put them up in her room. I came over with just three bags of clothes, so they can burn. I can always get more clothes. Most of my stuff is back in New Zealand.
RW: Do you have any phobias?
LM: I’m not a big fan of heights. Being at the top of the Eiffel Tower is pretty scary. And I don’t think I’ll ever do something like skydiving or bungee jumping.
RW: What’s your pre-match routine?
LM: I’m pretty relaxed. I sleep a lot during the day and listen to music before the game. I like hip-hop and R‘n’B.
RW: Who would you like to be stuck in a lift with?
LM: Eva Mendes.
Check him out making an impressive kick…