'I offer something in the midfield that no other midfielder can offer': Ngani Laumape parting shot hits the mark ahead of farewell match
Sometimes, gauging a player’s emotions and feelings on a matter can be as much about what isn’t said.
Ahead of Ngani Laumape’s final home game with the Hurricanes, the All Blacks midfielder was exceptionally candid when speaking to media regarding his impending move off-shore.
“I just want to be happy again playing footy,” he said. “The last couple of years, I’ve always loved being in the Hurricanes environment and I’ve always thrived in the Hurricanes environment.”
Laumape, however, was left disappointed when it came time to negotiate his new contract with New Zealand Rugby.
It was reported earlier this year that Laumape wasn’t offered any significant increase on his prior deal – ostensibly because he hadn’t become the regular All Black that many had expected.
On Wednesday, however, Laumape confirmed that he in fact was offered a lesser contract than what he’d previously been playing under. That made his decision to look elsewhere easy.
“It’ll be pretty sad to leave but I know it’s the best thing for me and my family and the future of my family and kids,” he said. “It wasn’t hard [to make a decision] when I was offered a contract that was asking me to take less in income. Once that had come into perspective, I had to make the best decision for me and my kids.”
And while the move to Stade Francais may come at the perfect time for the 28-year-old, that didn’t make the low-ball offer he received from NZR any easier to stomach.
“Yeah definitely [it was surprising],” he said. “It is what it is.
“Yeah I’m pretty disappointed because I think I offer something in the midfield that no other midfielder can offer in New Zealand.
“At the end of the day, it’s a business. They did what they had to do and for me, I have to do what’s best for me and my family and my kids. There’s no hard feelings. I understand it is what it is.”
The Aotearoa Rugby Pod discuss what the All Blacks would miss if Ngani Laumape went to French rugby.
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) April 7, 2021
Laumape also confirmed that he has no intentions of returning to New Zealand to try earn a spot in the All Blacks in the future – Friday night will be his last hurrah.
“I’m not going to think about coming back,” he revealed. “I’m going there and all I’m thinking is to finish my career overseas and enjoy what overseas has to offer for me and my family and my kids.
“To be honest, I’m just going over there and just [going to] rip into it.”
And while Laumape was quick to praise the Hurricanes environment, he didn’t seem to harbour the same passion for the All Blacks – and the second five-eighth had to pause when asked whether he still loved playing rugby.
“Yeah, I’m always going to love playing footy,” he eventually acknowledged. “But like I said, for me it’s just about doing the best thing for me and my kids and my partner.
“Every year for me in the Hurricanes environment has been amazing. They’ve treated me and my family awesome. I always thrive when I’m in the Hurricanes environment because there’s such a good bunch of group of lads and stuff.”
While Laumape hasn’t yet settled on a departure date, the 28-year-old is looking forward to going out with a bang on Friday night and, once he and his family touches down in France, playing the game he loves without having to deal with the “outside noise”.
“For me, I’ll just worry about Friday night and trying to get the best performance I can for the brothers and leave on a good note,” he said. “It’s the last hurrah, as you say, and I’m in front of a great bunch of supporters in Wellington that have shown nothing but love towards me so for me, I just need to go out there and do my job to the best of my abilities.”
The Hurricanes take on the Reds at 7:05pm NZT from SKY Stadium in Wellington.
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