The experience of Jarryd Hayne, who failed to make a sufficient impression in his bid to hop from the code of rugby to the code of American football, has not deterred another New Zealander, Paul Lasike, from attempting to succeed where Hayne failed.
He is playing rugby in the U.S., which for a Kiwi, is the rough equivalent of being transported to Australia, although to be fair, the sports-obsessed culture in the U.S. is beginning to embrace rugby through college and club play.
Lasike has some inklings of what it will take to gain one of the coveted spots in the NFL. He has spent two years in the proximity of the Chicago Bears.
In rugby play of late, he came off the reserves bench for the United States Eagles to bet a side from Chile by the score of 45 – 13 in a match played in California.
Lasike came on in the second half at California State University as a midfield back, where he made one long break and subsequently scored a try off a short pass.
Lasike caught the attention of NFL scouts while playing rugby and football at Brigham Young University.
The NFL Arizona Cardinals signed him as an undrafted free agent in 2015. After that, he was off and on the Chicago Bears practice squad and briefly made the active 53-man squad.
In rugby play, Lasike impressed USA Coach Gary Gold enough that Gold has retained Lasike for the Eagles to play in matches in the American Rugby Championship against South American teams from Brazil and Uruguay.
The Eagles seem to be competent, at least in terms of U.S. rugby. They have won three matches on home soil, beating Argentina 17 – 10 and Canada by 29 – 10.
Lasike was born and raised in Auckland and playing both rugby and football for Brigham Young gave him valuable exposure to the sports scene in the U.S., where the best rugby players in the world would likely starve to death, but practice squad NFL players can earn a comfortable, if not exactly lavish, living.