By Andrew Collins
February 10 2012
Casey Laulala announces his departure from the Cardiff Blues, despite his desire to stay. It’s dreadful news for fans, who found a real favourite in the kiwi.
Laulala will join up with Munster in the summer, a move that will leave Blues fans seething on a day that should be such a happy one.
Speaking through Twitter, Casey expressed his thanks to all the fans, including those who have given the kiwi his own song,
“Thank you all for your support over last few years, absolutely loved my time with the Blues, made quality friends on and off the field.”
When asked how he felt about the move, he replied,
“very tough but it’s been overwhelming and comforting messages from everyone :’( “
It appears fairly certain that the hugely gifted centre was keen to stay in Cardiff, but was not offered a new deal by the Blues board. He told CardiffBlues.com,
"I've enjoyed myself very, very much here at the Blues and was fortunate enough to win the Amlin Challenge Cup with the Blues in my first season here. The support that we had that day was immense and it was definitely one of my highlights, not only playing in the UK, but over my whole career.
My family settled in well and my daughter is at a very good school, but I guess this is a fresh challenge for me. It's something new and hopefully the Munster welcome will be as warm as the one I experienced here in Cardiff. The supporters have been great and I must have done something right for me to get a song from the supporters. You obviously play for yourself and the team but you want to also please the people that do come out to watch you, so I hope I've done that. I'd like to thank everyone from the bottom of my heart for welcoming me."
Tweets of support for the centre have been coming in thick and fast, he was a hugely popular player both on and off the field. Notably, former centre partner Tom Shanklin wrote,
“Massive shame Blues didn’t sign @LeCase23 (Casey Laulala’s Twitter name). A world class centre who NZ missed out on. Will be a huge loss next season.”
As well as flanker Andries Pretorius,
“The man, the legend, the gentleman. Will be missed!”
And Gareth Thomas,
“Was a pleasure being in the same team cuz. Hope I get an invite to your going away party.”
Laulala has been a sensational player for the Cardiff Blues, providing incredible performances, phenomenal individual skill, game-changing tries and above all else, huge amounts of pleasure for the fans.
I’m sure I speak on behalf of all fans when I thank Casey for a wonderful few seasons and wish him all the best in Ireland.
Oh and of course, you could always sign off by winning the Heineken Cup this season ;)