Reporting from Japan
Former NFL player Paul Lasike is looking forward to making his bow at the Rugby World Cup as the US Eagles look to upset Eddie Jones’ England in Kobe on Thursday.
The 114kg centre played full-back for the Arizona Cardinals and the Chicago Bears after transitioning to America football from rugby during his time at Brigham Young college in Utah.
The New Zealand-born 29-year-old joined Harlequins in 2018 from MLR side Utah Warriors. Somewhat inevitably the American was asked to compare both contact sports.
“It’s kind of similar in terms of the stage. With the huge World Cup stage, you get those similar vibes and the similar nerves running through, so it does bring back memories. So I’m looking forward to the experience.”
The hard-running centre admitted bad habits learned in the American code have had to be unlearned in rugby. “Coming from American football, leading with your head to someone’s lower body is not good. I figured out the hard way,” said Lasike. “But I do like playing physical.”
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The Rugby World Cup hasn’t gone completely unnoticed among the NFL’s elite. New England Patriots NFL star Tom Brady sent a message of support to the Springboks before sending a subsequent one to the USA. Eagles wing Blaine Scully said the team was ‘grateful’ for the message from the superstar.
“Nate Ebner, who is a US Olympian for us, had a word with his team-mate (Brady) and he did give us a shout out on his story, so we’re grateful for that. It’s good that he’s taking some interest in the game.”
Back row team-mate Cam Dolan also spoke to the influence England defence coach John Mitchell had on the US Eagles during his stint in North America. “John introduced us to a new style of rugby, which Americans were not used to in the past.
— World Rugby (@WorldRugby) February 18, 2018
“US players have grown over the last two years. Full-time training environment is massive. We had some guys only training on maybe a Wednesday and Thursday… working accounting jobs. You can train all day, but if you don’t have that match experience, you don’t have the fitness, especially on an international level.”
WATCH: Eddie Jones and George Ford hold a team announcement press conference ahead of England’s World Cup match against the USA in Kobe
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