Alapati Leiua is a Samoan International Utility Back who can play Wing or Centre who signed for Wasps in April 2014.
Born on the 21st September 1988 in Malie, Samoa, he spent four years playing for the Hurricanes and the Wellington Lions in New Zealand, turning down the opportunity to play for the All Blacks under residency rules in order to play for his country of brith Samoa.
His was on glorious form in 2014 when he landed in the UK for the first time, and pretty much instantly claimed the starting spot in the centre running some intelligent lines, and breaking tackles left right and centre. But his luck was not to hold.
Not long after moving from the other side of the world with his partner his father died back home in Samoa, and not long after that he ruptured his Anterior Cruciate Ligament leaving him sidelined for the rest of the season, and for the early part of this season as well.
However it has given him time to concentrate on his recovery and he made his first appearance against Exeter Chiefs off the bench last week at the Ricoh Arena. He looked as sharp as ever, and significantly larger.
After the match Leiua said ” it was great for me to get back out there. It’s been a long time now and I’ve worked really hard to get back, so to finally pull on a shirt again was really good for me.” He knows however that it won;t be easy to break into the team that so demolished both Leinster and Toulon in short succession, but after Christain Wade’s recent foot injury perhaps a move back to the wing is in order?
“It’s a really good group of players, so it’s hard to break into that backline, but it just means that we all have to get better, which is good for the squad. I know, coming back from injury that I have to do well if I am to take a spot from someone else. When I get a chance, I just have to play as well as I can.”
Let’s hope that 2015/16 is the season where he finally shows his potential in the Premiership and recreates some of the form he showed glimpses of before his injury. A back three of Alapati Leiua, Frank Halai and Charles Piutau could be something very special indeed.
“I’ve played with those guys before, I know how good they are and it’s great to have them here. They’ve added a lot since they came into the squad and the strength in depth we now have is really good. They are both really good guys and they’ve slotted into the team well. I’m just looking forward to playing some more with them now!”
His partner is now his fiancee, and his injury prone days are long behind him. I predict 2016 is going to be a good year for Alapati Leiua.