Samoan-born Casey Laulala's New Zealand rugby journey started with a move to boarding school at Wesley College in Auckland. The staunchly proud rugby school has a fantastic track record of producing quality rugby players, with the likes of Jonah Lomu, Stephen Donald, Sitiveni Sivivatu and brother Nepo all going through the college.
Casey's rugby talent was evident through high school and he was rewarded with regional U19s and U21s selection before playing first-team rugby for Counties Manukau. After two years at Counties, Canterbury coach Bruce (Aussie) McLean asked Casey to move to Christchurch to play for Canterbury.
Coming straight out of high school into professional rugby proved a surreal experience for the young centre, playing with and against the likes of Jonah Lomu, Christian Cullen, and other All Black legends.
A number of strong seasons for Canterbury proved enough for Laulala to earn a call-up to the Crusaders. He represented the Crusaders between 2004-2009, making 61 appearances and scoring 100 points.
Speaking on his initial call-up, Laulala said,
“Being a part of the Crusaders at a young age was something that I had never believed would happen and being called up into the team showed me that I was there for a reason, to help build and bring value to the jersey and team, I was just grateful and blessed to be a part of the dynasty.”
Laulala's most iconic moment for the red and black came in the now infamous Final in the Fog in 2006 against the Hurricanes. Laulala burst through the Hurricanes defence to score what proved to be the winning try to win them their sixth Super Rugby title.
This spurred a recall to the All Blacks the following day, where he later went on to play his second test match against the Irish in Auckland.
Casey then moved overseas, signing a contract with Welsh outfit Cardiff Blues for the 2009/2010 rugby season, where we won the European Challenge Cup. Laulala spent three seasons in Cardiff before heading to Ireland to represent Munster Rugby in 2012-2014.
Although Casey's professional playing days are over, he is still heavily involved in the game here in Christchurch at Marist Albion Rugby Club and occasionally lends his expertise to Canterbury.
Casey is now working at Ray White where he is about to complete his realtor licence. He has kindly offered for anyone wanting to get in touch at looking to find a property in town to get in touch. We're all looking forward to seeing what Casey's future looks like in real estate.