Junior Laloifi was the leading tryscorer in last year's NRC, crossing 14 times to help Brisbane City claim back to back premierships. On the back of that form, the 21-year old picked up a full time contract with the Reds and is now on track to make his Super Rugby debut.
Firstly mate, congratulations you recently became a father. How are the sleeping patterns?
Ah thank you. She was born last week so she is five days old. I now realise how important sleep is but apart from that I am loving every moment of it, fatherhood is amazing.
You picked up a Reds contract as the “Ballymore Kid” after impressing in last year’s NRC. How important was that competition for your development?
It was definitely important. Having that pathway from club rugby to Super Rugby made a huge difference. It’s a big leap between competitions so it does show that there is a pathway and it does work so I’m very grateful for it.
How has your first professional pre season been?
It’s been really tough, definitely tougher than what I was expecting. Getting all the little details right and all the running has been difficult so it took a while to settle in, but I am loving it. All of the boys from the Brisbane City team have really helped me out and the other Reds guys have welcomed me so it’s great to have mates here.
What have you had to work on hardest since becoming a professional rugby player?
Self management has been really important. The training schedule is very full on so you need to be really organised and make sure you are on time and ready for everything. Aside from that, I’ve been doing a lot of strength work to try and get my body ready to play Super Rugby.
The Reds have a talented backline, what do you need to do to secure a spot?
We’ve got a really young exciting backline so it is going to be tough to work my way into the 23, so for me, I’ve just got to work as hard as possible to try and impress the coaches and make sure I am doing all the little things right. If I can do that and keep my body right, then hopefully the rest will sort itself out.
Do you think the Reds can be a threat this year in the competition?
Yeah definitely we can be. We’ve got a young team so the other sides aren't going to know too much about us and I think we could be the dark horse this year. I think people will be surprised by how well some of the young guys do this year. Jake (McIntyre) is one to watch, he is only young but he has a heap of talent and I’m sure he is looking to make this year a good year for himself.
Away from rugby, what do you do with your spare time?
I don’t really have too much spare time these days but when I do get a day off, I love watching movies, I’m a movie fanatic. At the moment though, I’m trying to spend as much time as possible with my daughter and be a really good father.
If you’re a fanatic, what are your top three favourite movies?
Top three, that’s easy. There’s this movie called the Mighty Ducks. My top three are Mighty Ducks 1,2 and 3.
If you weren't playing professional rugby, what would you be doing for a job?
If I didn’t pick up the Reds contract I’d still be back at my old job as a roofer, removing asbestos from roofs. It’s really tough work spending all day on a roof so I think I’d do just about anything else if I had a choice. I’m so lucky to be able to make a living out of playing rugby.
How keen are you to make the most of this opportunity with the Reds?
I’m definitely keen to make this last. It is something that I have always wanted and I’ve got my foot in the door so I’m going to do everything I can to make the most of it.
This interview was conducted as part of a collaboration between Rugby News and The Rugby Union Players’ Association (RUPA), designed to help the Australian Rugby public get to know some of the newer professional stars of our game who have graduated from Club Rugby. For more information on RUPA and the services they offer, click here.