Former rugby star Paul Lasike trying to make it in the NFL with Arizona Cardinals

May 9, 2015, 9:16 AM | Updated: 9:16 am

TEMPE, Ariz. — Chances are if you have ever watched rugby, you at some point thought to yourself that it was a lot like football.

From a physical and violence standpoint, maybe. But otherwise, the sports are very different.

Paul Lasike, who is trying to make the Arizona Cardinals as an undrafted rookie free agent, knows that better than anyone.

The Auckland, New Zealand native was an All-American while at BYU for his skill on the rugby pitch, but now he’s trying to make a career as a football player.

“Nah, not at all,” he said Friday when asked if he saw himself in this position a few years ago. “I was playing rugby at BYU so I didn’t even think about playing football, so let alone giving the NFL a shot.”

But that’s exactly what he’s doing, and he is one of roughly 50 players in Tempe this weekend trying to impress the coaching staff enough into giving them a chance. For Lasike, he’s getting a shot because he gave football a chance.

“The rugby team, they lift with the strength and conditioning coaches at college, at BYU, and they were just like, ‘Hey man, you’ve got to give football a shot,'” he said. “And so I did, the last three years — sophomore, junior, senior — I gave it a shot and the snowball just got bigger and bigger until I landed out here. It’s been awesome.”

Playing primarily at fullback for the Cougars, Lasike carried the ball 171 times for 843 yards and 10 touchdowns while adding 31 receptions for 322 yards and two scores to his ledger.

The transition from rugby to football may not be as challenging from a physical standpoint, but for Lasike, a self-described slow learner, understanding the Cardinals’ system has been a bear.

“And that’s the fastest way to kind of get cut or do bad, is not to learn fast — and so it’s been pretty stressful,” he said. “Just been putting my head in the books every chance that I can get so I don’t stuff up on the field.”

Part of the issue, he said, is that at BYU, his job as a fullback was basically there to stay in one place before the snap and then “bang helmets” after the snap. But in Arizona, he said there seems to be a lot of movements and motions, which is something he is not familiar with.

However, while maybe difficult to learn, Lasike said he likes what the Cardinals are asking him to do. And though there’s a learning curve, it’s one he’s happy to try to conquer.

“Oh man, all the stars are just flying in my head,” he said. “It’s awesome. It’s such an awesome experience to be here.”

It’s funny how things work.

Lasike admitted he was reluctant to give football a shot three years ago, as he wondered if he would be able to pick up the new sport. But here he is, trying to become one of a handful of New Zealanders to play in the NFL.

American football is not exactly a big sport back home, so it’s no shock he never played what they call “gridiron.” But now that he’s into it, it’s very exciting.

“I had a couple people call me and ask me about it, saying, ‘Hey man, you were on the news the other day, saying that you had signed a contract with the Cardinals,'” he said. “It’s freaking awesome.”

Life Changer Loans

Comments

Comment guidelines: No name-calling, personal attacks, profanity, or insults. Please keep the conversation civil and help us moderate comments by reporting abuse.
comments powered by Disqus

Arizona Cardinals

Offensive tackle D.J. Humphries #74 of the Arizona Cardinals is introduced during the NFL game at S...
Tyler Drake

Arizona Cardinals’ Lecitus Smith pulls back curtain on offensive line room

Thanks to the help of Cardinals rookie Lecitus Smith, we were able to pull back another layer of the offensive line in a rapid-fire setting.
16 hours ago
Jace Whittaker #39 of the Arizona Cardinals reacts in the second half against the Las Vegas Raiders...
Alex Weiner

Cardinals elevate WR Andre Baccellia, CB Jace Whittaker to active roster

The Arizona Cardinals used standard practice squad elevations on wide receiver Andre Baccellia and cornerback Jace Whittaker.
16 hours ago
Greg Gaines #91 of the Los Angeles Rams tackles Kyler Murray #1 of the Arizona Cardinals during the...
Arizona Sports

Rams boast recent success at State Farm Stadium in pregame tweet

Not that they need added motivation, but the Cardinals got some Friday courtesy of @RamsNFL, the official Twitter account of the Rams.
16 hours ago
Arizona Cardinals OL Lecitus Smith (Tyler Drake/Arizona Sports)...
Tyler Drake

Cardinals rookie OL Lecitus Smith not rushing the process in Year 1

Cardinals rookie Lecitus Smith is taking his move from guard to center in stride as he waits for his opportunity to arise.
2 days ago
Arizona Cardinals broadcasters Dave Pasch and Ron Wolfley on the field before the NFL game at State...
Arizona Sports

Channel watch: Dave Pasch pulls double-duty calling Utah-ASU, Rams-Cardinals

Dave Pasch will call Utah's visit to Arizona State for ESPN on Saturday before hitting the Valley radio waves for Rams-Cardinals on Sunday.
2 days ago
Defensive tackle Aaron Donald #99 of the Los Angeles Rams reacts after a sack against the Buffalo B...
Tyler Drake

Limiting Rams DL Aaron Donald’s production atop Cardinals’ to-do list

Aaron Donald and the rest of the Los Angeles Rams defense present a massive challenge for the Arizona Cardinals in Week 3.
2 days ago
Former rugby star Paul Lasike trying to make it in the NFL with Arizona Cardinals