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Lima S
BdeB (IP Logged)
11 October, 2018 08:32
A lovely article/interview with him in the Times today. The more I see and hear of him the more I like him. Comes across as a lovely genuine family guy. Also currently 4th for most try assists per 80mins.

 
Re: Lima S
Heathen (IP Logged)
11 October, 2018 16:42
The article in full :

Lima Sopoaga: If I don’t buy stupid cars I can use this money to change lives

Wasps fly half Lima Sopoaga tells John Westerby why he gave up on the All Blacks to put his family first

John Westerby

October 11 2018, 12:01am, The Times

Rugby Union

Sopoaga’s creative influence puts him fourth on the list for try assists per game this season, among players to have 240 mins (equivalent to three games) under their belts
Sopoaga’s creative influence puts him fourth on the list for try assists per game this season, among players to have 240 mins (equivalent to three games) under their belts

The presence of Lima Sopoaga going through his kicking routine at a modest training ground on the outskirts of Coventry says much about the shifting sands of the global game. When New Zealand were about to complete their astonishing comeback against South Africa in Pretoria last weekend, requiring a conversion to win with the final kick of the game, it could have been Sopoaga, rather than Richie Mo’unga, who kicked the points that clinched victory in one of the greatest Test matches of recent times.

It could have been Sopoaga who was preparing to come on the All Blacks’ tour of Europe next month, a trip that features mouthwatering fixtures against England and Ireland on consecutive weekends. This time last year, the fly half was understudy to the great Beauden Barrett, a regular impact player from the bench and a starter when Barrett was not around. Shortly after the European tour last November, though, Sopoaga decided that his future lay on the other side of the world, taking up an offer to join Wasps, which is why he is now kicking goals on the outskirts of Coventry.

“When I watch the All Blacks now, I sit back as a fan and enjoy supporting guys I’m really close to,” he says. “Sometimes I watch the haka and think, ‘Wow, that’s unreal.’ But if someone had said to me when I was eight years old that I was going to play 16 times for the All Blacks, starting twice, that would have been enough for me. I got to do what many people walking this Earth aren’t able to do, that’s to achieve their dreams.”

It could have been Sopoaga, too, competing for a place in the All Blacks squad for next year’s World Cup in Japan, but moving away from New Zealand meant ruling himself out of contention for international selection. He had already missed out on the squad for the 2015 World Cup and, turning 28 in February, he should be at the peak of his playmaking powers around the time of the tournament next year. But to be in your prime also means something else. It means your market value is at its highest. In Sopoaga’s shoes, that meant a chance to secure his family’s future that may not crop up again, joining Wasps on a two-and-a-half-year deal worth about £1.5 million that pretty much doubled his previous salary.

“To come over here, to uproot my partner [Miriam] and daughter [Milla, aged one] was a very big decision,” he says. “But in the long run, it will be the right one. Guys in New Zealand who are second or third string, we’re not getting paid the same as the Beauden Barretts. I fell into that category, I’ve no qualms about it, that’s the way it goes. Now, if I’m smart and make the right choices, if I’m not buying stupid cars and stuff like that, this money will be put to good use. It won’t just change my life, it will change a few lives. Who wouldn’t want that for their family?”

What he is enjoying spending his money on at the moment is avocados. Since arriving at Wasps last month, he has settled his family in Leamington Spa and has been delighted at the cost of living in the Midlands. “I couldn’t believe it, it’s about 50p for an avocado, that would cost six times as much back home,” he says. “A punnet of blueberries, back home that would be nine quid, it’s two quid here. Amazing.”

This bright-eyed sense of adventure is at the heart of Sopoaga’s new life. Rather than returning from international duty with the All Blacks this week, he has been preparing for his first taste of the Heineken Champions Cup, as Wasps open their account against Leinster, the defending champions, in Dublin tomorrow night where Sopoaga lines up opposite Johnny Sexton. “Dublin, eh?” Sopoaga says with a grin. “We’ll have to try a few pints of Guinness.”

Broadening horizons and sampling a different lifestyle are now the goals for Sopoaga and his family. “It’s a big adventure,” he says. “We want to make the most of our opportunity here, to experience a new culture in England, to learn a new language, to get to know new people.”

Hang on, did he say learn a new language? “I’ve been to Newcastle recently,” he explains. “I couldn’t understand a word anyone said. I tried to order some food and it wasn’t really happening. I got in an Uber, I couldn’t understand the driver and we both just ended up laughing. I’m sure they couldn’t understand me either. But I thought I’d come to live in an English-speaking country.”

It was on that visit to face Newcastle Falcons a fortnight ago that Wasps fans began to enjoy the prospect of what Sopoaga will bring, a delicately threaded grubber to Josh Bassett, a perfectly timed short pass to send over Juan de Jongh and a wonderful overhead basketball-style pass that put Marcus Watson into the corner.

Even as an All Black in his prime, Sopoaga had considerable boots to fill at Wasps in replacing Danny Cipriani. Within a couple of weeks of his arrival, Cipriani’s unique place in the English rugby consciousness was made clear to Sopoaga, as debates began to rage around Eddie Jones’s decision to omit the fly half from his England training squad.

“There’s always going to be debate,” Sopoaga says. “Back home, everybody has an opinion about who should be in the All Blacks, everybody here has an opinion of who should play for England. Ultimately, Eddie Jones picks the team. But from what I’ve seen of Danny, I wouldn’t be surprised come the naming of the actual squad [next week] if he’s in there. You can’t leave quality footballers out — and everybody knows he can play football.”

Sopoaga’s first impressions of the English club game, particularly after his debut against Exeter Chiefs, were of the sheer size of some of the players. “It’s been the same week on week, I feel like I’m a little kid out there,” he says. “I thought, ‘Freakin’ hell, I need to get in the gym, they like a bit of brute force over here.’ But the rugby has been pretty good, in New Zealand maybe we underestimate the quality a bit, but there are some exceptional players.” And his own challenge of following Cipriani? “Early days, but it’s going well,” he says. “I’m trying to fit into how they do things, they’re fitting around the way I do things, we’re getting there.”

Fitting in, after moving from the other side of the world, is one thing for the player, with a ready-made social circle and an expectant audience of fans. It can often be much harder for the player’s family to make the adjustment. “My partner is more homesick than I am, that has been a little bit tough, to see her upset at times,” Sopoaga says. “We know it will get better, there are other players’ partners she’s starting to get to know. But she’s at home with our daughter 24/7, she doesn’t get the same adult interaction she had at home. In the back of my mind, it’s something I worry about. But she knows there’s a sacrifice we’re making.”

For Sopoaga, the sacrifice was to forsake a burgeoning international career, to pass up the chance of playing for the All Blacks at the World Cup. Such decisions are often portrayed simply as a choice between the glory of international rugby and the lure of a big pay packet. Behind the decision, though, are the people for whom Sopoaga feels responsible, as the eldest of six children raised in a working-class suburb of Wellington, where his father stayed at home to raise the kids while his mother was working for an insurance company.

“I was one of those kids who went to school just to eat his lunch and play rugby,” he says. “Rugby was my ticket to potentially making a better life for myself. Things were tight at home and I can remember times when Mum and Dad struggled. But we got through, our house was filled with love. I’m not just playing for myself over here, it’s about making a better life for my family, making Mum and Dad’s life a bit easier, brothers and sisters, nieces and nephews.”

Will he find it harder to deal with when the All Blacks hit town? “Nah, man, I can’t wait,” he says. “Some of those guys are my best mates and hopefully I’ll be able to scab a few tickets, I’ve heard they’re going for a thousand quid.

“Those guys have been a big part of my rugby journey. Yeah, you can say, who wouldn’t want to play 50 Tests and go to a World Cup? But I’ve been an All Black, it was an awesome part of my life. But life’s not always that simple and it’s time to write a new chapter.”

 
Re: Lima S
Boooo (IP Logged)
11 October, 2018 17:43
Thank you for posting Heathen.

 
Re: Lima S
kentwasp1 (IP Logged)
11 October, 2018 19:02
I was sort of "jury out" on the guy after first few games as his hair seemed better than his play. Think it was Cips hangover. Loved this article, but more importantly, if Lima can front up tomorrow at the Agincourt battle in Dublin, I am forever a devotee.
Will be ugly and hard. Lovely sounding man, just need to see the iron. Then I hope he stays with us for more than a season

 
Re: Lima S
Shugs (IP Logged)
11 October, 2018 19:29
I think Sopoaga will turn out to be a fantastic signing. The right mix of pragmatism and flair with a physical edge.

 
Re: Lima S
Buzzboy (IP Logged)
11 October, 2018 20:06
Thanks Heathen. I saw it in the paper at work and took a photograph of it but that was easier to read! Yes he sounds like the real deal and hope he sticks around for number of years.

 
Re: Lima S
Heathen (IP Logged)
11 October, 2018 22:29
We certainly missed him last week.

I fancy that when he and Brad are well bedded in, we will have a lot more steel to our game. Brad has to be captain or certainly leader of the pack before long.

 
Re: Lima S
mike909 (IP Logged)
11 October, 2018 22:44
Quote:
kentwasp1
I was sort of "jury out" on the guy after first few games as his hair seemed better than his play. Think it was Cips hangover. Loved this article, but more importantly, if Lima can front up tomorrow at the Agincourt battle in Dublin, I am forever a devotee.
Will be ugly and hard. Lovely sounding man, just need to see the iron. Then I hope he stays with us for more than a season

Good post

+1

 
Re: Lima S
kentwasp1 (IP Logged)
13 October, 2018 14:01
I'm afraid it just didn't happen. Ok it didn't happen for 23 players. But this is a thread on one serious money signing, who needs to get his boots on and show us why he's here. My personal view is Wasps should abandon the galactico strategy and adopt the Exeter one

 
Re: Lima S
BdeB (IP Logged)
13 October, 2018 14:09
Hue was pretty good in his previous start creating all 3 tries so I’m not writing him off yet.

 
Re: Lima S
Marconi (IP Logged)
13 October, 2018 14:41
Which other 10 would've changed the result though?

 
Re: Lima S
kentwasp1 (IP Logged)
13 October, 2018 14:55
That's not the point though, is it.

 
Re: Lima S
13 October, 2018 15:00
Quote:
kentwasp1
That's not the point though, is it.

I think it might be a bit fairer to judge him on more than a handful of games.

He hasn't been brilliant, nor has he been awful.

I'll reserve judgement until the end of the season. Not every new player beds in automatically.



If winning isn't everything, why do they keep score? - Vince Lombardi

 
Re: Lima S
Hymenoptera (IP Logged)
13 October, 2018 15:06
Quote:
kentwasp1
I'm afraid it just didn't happen. Ok it didn't happen for 23 players. But this is a thread on one serious money signing, who needs to get his boots on and show us why he's here. My personal view is Wasps should abandon the galactico strategy and adopt the Exeter one

Yawn..hang on, double yawn.

 
Re: Lima S
Raggs (IP Logged)
13 October, 2018 15:09
Quote:
kentwasp1
I'm afraid it just didn't happen. Ok it didn't happen for 23 players. But this is a thread on one serious money signing, who needs to get his boots on and show us why he's here. My personal view is Wasps should abandon the galactico strategy and adopt the Exeter one

Sign big name tightheads, then have them as third choice? Sign average international 9s, and block your 3 great youngsters pathways until injury intervenes?

Exeter make pretty big name signings too.

 
Re: Lima S
kentwasp1 (IP Logged)
13 October, 2018 15:11
great post. If nothing to say just insult someone anyway . Class

 
Re: Lima S
Shugs (IP Logged)
13 October, 2018 15:17
The guy needs time to settle. I know there are massive Cipriani blind spots but even the man god himself was pretty awful in his first season back here as he settled in and the team got used to him. If any position needs time to bed in its 10. Sopoaga just needs time.

 
Re: Lima S
Hymenoptera (IP Logged)
13 October, 2018 15:20
If thats an insult in your eyes you need to get out a bit more.

You single out one player, seemingly based on his salary, a salary thats in a similar ballpark to many others who offered similar contribution and of similar public standing.

Class

 
Re: Lima S
Vespulavulgaris (IP Logged)
13 October, 2018 15:22
Gopperth was slated when he first signed for us, now he is the messiah himself.

WLR was insulted more than pretty much anyone in the black and gold has been by their own fans, now we can't possibly cope without him.

Fiver himself was poor for some time before becoming the best player in the history of the world.

Just let the man play, you don't get to start at 10 for the ABs without having genuine class.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 13/10/2018 15:23 by Vespulavulgaris.

 
Re: Lima S
Shugs (IP Logged)
13 October, 2018 15:26
Quote:
Vespulavulgaris
Gopperth was slated when he first signed for us, now he is the messiah himself.
WLR was insulted more than pretty much anyone in the black and gold has been by their own fans, now we can't possibly cope without him.

Fiver himself was poor for some time before becoming the best player in the history of the world.


Just let the man play, you don't get to start at 10 for the ABs without having genuine class.
Absolutely spot on. Well said.

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