By Bea Asprey
LONDON WASPS have snapped up one of Super Rugby’s power houses in Alapati Leiua. He’s been formidable for the Hurricanes this season, and Wasps Director of Rugby Dai Young says: “He is powerful, has good feet and knows where the try line is.” But what else should we know about him?
Though Leiua’s favoured position is on the wing, he can play in the centre too. Now in his fifth year of Super Rugby with the Hurricanes, he switched to the midfield when Tim Bateman sustained a knee injury earlier this season. His current midfield partner? None other than Conrad Smith. The All Black has been encouraging him to talk more on the pitch, but says of the 25-year-old: “He’s a good rugby player. He’s got a smart footy brain so defensively I think it (playing centre) will come pretty naturally to him. He’ll make a good fist of it.”
Crossing the Pacific
Leiua moved to New Zealand as a youngster, and was adopted by his uncle, which led him to changing his surname. He wanted to pursue his dream of becoming a professional rugby player, and where better to do that than the country where they nurture the best team in the world? His move to Wellington and progression through rugby’s ranks has seen him turn out for the Vodafone Wellington Lions in the ITM Cup, and the city’s Super Rugby franchise, the Hurricanes, where he will finish the season before moving to London.
He turned down New Zealand
It’s rare to be given a chance to play for the All Blacks, and ever rarer to turn them down. But Leiua has chosen to represent the country of his birth, Samoa, at Test level. The reason? He wanted to be reunited with his older brother, Ofisa Treviranus, on the rugby field. He said: “We had been a long time away from each other and it was definitely a factor for me in deciding where to play. It was tough to be away from each other.”
Leiua made his Test debut for Samoa at last summer’s Quadrangular Tournament in South Africa. His Test bow came in the 27-17 victory over Scotland, and he’s scored two tries in his five Test caps, all from the wing. He has played alongside his brother, blindside flanker Treviranus, in every Test match so far. The No 6, who now plays for London Irish, played alongside another older brother, Ray, also a flanker, for Connacht in 2007-08.
When he’s tearing up the Adams Park pitch next season, you won’t want to look a fool in front of the other fans, so… his name is pronounced A-la-patty (Pati to his mates) Lay-oo-ah. Oggy oggy oggy!
Watch Leiua in action below!