Sailosi Tagicakibau is as much of a handful for defenders as his name is a mouthful for commentators.
What has your experience of the DHL Stormers set-up been like thus far?
“It’s been refreshing coming into a new set-up and getting to know the South African culture. I’ve had a very warm reception. The coaches have been brilliant, so it’s been an easy transition. The tour also helped me to bond with the guys. Obviously it’s been tough for all of us with results not going our way.”
Has it been difficult joining up with a team in tough times?
“We’re professionals, so we wouldn’t be here if we wanted to lose. It’s been tough – not just for the boys, but also the supporters. For some reason things just aren’t happening for us, but all we can do is keep working.”
What drives a team in times like these?
“It shows how tight you are as a group. We’re a tightly-knit bunch and need one another to pull out of the rut. It will happen. The injuries have been tough, but at the same time it has created opportunities for others. We’re looking forward to getting some senior guys back against the Lions.”
You played at Newlands for the Chiefs in 2005. Was it a special experience then?
“I vividly recall being chopped down by De Wet Barry and fracturing my leg after landing awkwardly. It was the last game ?that I would play for the Chiefs, so it’s pretty ironic that I’m coming here to rejuvenate my career!”
You scored 37 tries in 111 Premiership games for London Irish. What do you think you can offer the DHL Stormers?
“I’m trying to familiarise myself with the gameplan. It’s not as easy as people may think to go out there and just score tries. There are many processes that need to be followed before you get those opportunities. I haven’t seen much of the ball and our try-scoring record is quite low at the moment. I think I bring a lot of experience to the squad and also some physicality on the wing.”
Is this a big opportunity for you considering it was a bit of a struggle to get into the London Irish team due to their strength in depth?
“I had been at the club for nine years, which is a long time to spend anywhere. A few young guys came through the ranks and used their opportunities. I was struggling with injuries and the club also moved in a different direction. They asked me if I wanted to take this opportunity to freshen up and try to recapture the form that I had prior to the injuries.”
Is it good to be back playing in the southern hemisphere?
“I love it. It was awesome to be able to see my folks in New Zealand and family in Australia while on tour. The season is long in England and you don’t get many opportunities to spend time back home. I’ve been blessed. My parents were proud and happy when I came over.”
Is the prospect of playing in a fourth Rugby World Cup a big motivation for you?
“It would be great, but at the same time you’ve got to deserve your spot. The exposure that I’m getting at the DHL Stormers will be helpful.”
It must be tough to play for Samoa, though, because you are often outgunned in terms of strength?
“Samoan rugby is more competitive these days; most of the guys are professionals. We beat the Wallabies prior to the 2011 World Cup and gave a good account of ourselves against South Africa in the tournament. We target the top-tier teams to prove a point.”
Speaking as a big winger, is there place for the little guys at international level?
“Definitely. Shane Williams and Jason Robinson were small guys. It’s also amazing to see Gio Aplon in action – for someone of that size to be that strong and quick!”
Any good mates in the DHL Stormers squad?
“Siya Kolisi has taken me under his wing; he’s a funny guy. Nic Groom, Demetri Catrakilis and my roommate on tour, Peter Grant, have been very helpful during the transition. They’ve been giving me tips on places to go and where to eat.”
What do you do to keep yourself busy in your free time?
“I enjoy listening to music and playing guitar. I’m also trying to explore Cape Town. The people here have been awesome and during our last match I could hear some fans trying to pronounce my name, which was funny!”
DHL Stormers Matchday Magazine