Hurricanes rookie Salesi Rayasi has grown up with rugby in the household.
The son of former Fiji international Filipe, Rayasi grew up watching his father play in different parts of the world before his own stocks started to rise while attending St Patrick’s College Silverstream.
Born and bred in Hutt Valley, Rayasi had no great dreams when he was growing up, preferring instead to just enjoy his childhood which consisted mostly of simply playing and going to school.
“Maybe when I was eight years old I started to watch guys on TV like Jerry Collins, Lome Fa’atau and Tana Umaga, I guess it was about then when it came into my mind that it would be great to have a professional career,” he said.
He is first to admit his parents have been incredibly influential in his life and subsequent career.
“They told me from a young age that hard work is going to get you where you are and I guess dad was living proof of that,” he said.
While he had a brief flirtation away from the game to pursue a potential basketball career, the 22-year-old returned to feature in the New Zealand Sevens side and then Auckland in an ultimately successful Mitre 10 Cup Premiership campaign.
It was a period that Rayasi naturally looks back on with great joy.
“It was huge for me, personally, because I took a lot of confidence out of the Mitre 10 Cup. Winning it, I guess was a dream, really, because Auckland had not won it in a long time.
“To go up there and be part of it, I took a lot of learnings out of that and a lot of confidence too.”
A staunch LA Lakers and LeBron James fan, Rayasi admits he spends a lot of time outside his rugby commitments following the NBA and watching as much of his side and hero as he can.
Join the Hurricanes for 90s Night at Our House, Westpac Stadium on Saturday March 23 when we take a trip down memory lane to relive all things from our 90s era.
Use code 1996 (year we were established)to secure a discounted $19.96 Silver Adult ticket. 150 fans will receive a commemorative 90s Night tee!
Click HERE to secure your tickets!