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New Zealand born NFL player looking to bulldoze his way into Eagles team

By Ian Cameron
Paul Lasike of the Brigham Young Cougars runs for a touchdown

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A New Zealand born NFL player is set to earn his first cap for the US Eagles after returning to the sport of his youth.

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Paul Lasike was named in the US Eagles squad for the Americas Rugby Championship, having signed with Major League Rugby franchise – the Utah Warriors – back in November.

Born in Auckland in 1990, Lasike played rugby for Westlake Boys Highschool and Church College of New Zealand. Clearly talented, he made the Waikato U16 and U18 representative teams, before moving to the US.

Lasike came to Highland and won a US High School National Championship in 2008 before attending Brigham Young University (BYU) in Utah, a college with a formidable rugby programme.

A talented and powerfully built rugby player, Lasike quickly turned the heads of the football coaches on campus, and it didn’t take long for him to become a dual athlete, with one foot in each code. His brutal carries immediately translated from the rugby pitch onto the football field, were he excelled and earned a scholarship, before going on to the captain the team.

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In 2015 the NFL came calling and he signed with the Arizona Cardinals before being released. He was picked up by the Chicago Bears, where after a stop-start period on the practice squad he was eventually called into the active roster in 2016, where he played two seasons.

Moving from running back to fullback, Lasike piled on the kilos, eventually packing 117kgs onto a 5’10 frame. Weighing 10kg more than his college playing days, Lasike will be eager to cut down, a process which may well be underway and is now listed at 113kg at the Utah Warriors.

Having spent three years away from rugby, Lasike will be eager get rugby fit and return to the sport he grew up playing. There is no doubting that Lasike has the physicality to make an impact in the Americas Rugby Championship, and will hope he can do enough to put himself in the picture for selection for the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan.

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