FEATURE // WARRICK LAHMERT
How are you feeling ahead of Saturday’s Middlesex sevens - are you feeling nervous at all?
Well after training the blood’s rushing through my body a little bit but I’m trying to keep calm and keep myself to myself and gather my thoughts.
What’s the biggest crowd you’ve ever played in front of?
Well that would be Horowhenua Kapiti against Wellington B. Cory Jane was playing - I’d say there was about 5000 people maybe give or take?
So not as big as we’re expecting at Twickenham - last year attendance was around 18,000, does that make you nervous?
Oh yeah definitely! It will be a new experience for me but one I can’t wait for - I’m pretty excited to be playing in a stadium like Twickenham too - its got a lot of history and the boys have spoken about it quite a lot!
So this is your first time playing for Samurai?
Well yeah it’s the first time, but I’ve played 5 tournaments for them since I’ve been over here. I took part in the series tournaments and also in the Bournemouth sevens. It’s been a great experience!
How do you f ind playing in the National Series?
Yeah it was brilliant - really good - it’s probably one of the best things going in Sevens around the world at the moment. In New Zealand you only get one main tournament, but the series takes you all over the country, and there’s talk of it getting bigger too so I think it’s pretty awesome!
How have you found playing in the New Zealand development side?
Well I got to the last 20 of the emerging side but didn’t make the last 15 who got contracted, however I was in the emerging team to go out to Japan, but due to the earthquake hitting at that time the trip was cancelled - the next one will be the Gold Coast sevens so hopefully I’ll be on that trip.
How did you get involved in the emerging team?
Well I was playing for my club side in the nationals, and we got to the bowl final, the side was named along with some extras
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that impressed and I was one of those extras! I got taken to play for Taranaki for a season with sevens and then I was selected from there!
Where did you start your club rugby? Well I started when I was 3 for a team who were in Horowhenua Kapiti, then I didn’t play college rugby because I was too small - so I stacked some weight on in the gym and started playing for Horowhenua Kapiti and then Athletic and then Spotswood Taranaki.
And how do you see your future of club rugby going - do you see yourself playing fifteens with a future or do you see yourself just playing sevens?
Well to be honest I hate to say it but given the chance I would just play sevens constantly - I love fifteens but it can be hard from going from playing sevens to fifteens as they require such different positioning and techniques. If the opportunity were there though, I would just play sevens.
So how long have you been in the UK? When do you go home?
Well I’ve been here about 2 months, but I have to go home soon. I need to see my partner Che who has been very supportive with my rugby, being away a lot is tough so she’s been great. Also my parents and my mother in law Sue have been very supportive of me being away with the rugby a lot so I should probably take this opportunity to thank them!
And what has been the best thing you’ve done since you’ve been here?
I hate to say it but I’ve been playing a lot of squash with Terry (Sands) whose been smoking me quite a bit. We’ve had a few close games but he moves around the court pretty quick for someone of his build (laughs)
What’s your sevens goal for this year?
Well my short term goal is to win Middlesex and then go home with that and the series under my belt - long term I would like to get Into a good club either here or in New Zealand - either would be fine, I would happily play for a good side in either.
Do you feel lucky to have the opportunities you’ve had at a young age?
Yeah I feel real lucky, to have the opportunities I’ve had already has been quite breath taking- it doesn’t usually happen to someone like me where I come from, I’ve always loved my rugby and for something like this to happen it’s pretty amazing!
Looking ahead to the Olympics is that something you’re going to want to be a part of?
The Olympics ey? Aw far out. Its a long way away but if I was to make it to the Olympics it would be amazing, to play for either team New Zealand or England would be great as my Mum’s side is English and my Dad’s side is Kiwi
If you had to choose one team - who would you want to play for?
Ahhh I can’t answer that - I would play for whoever offered it first I think. That’s a tough question!! Because of having family on both sides it makes it hard to choose. I’d have to make that decision if it came up! Hopefully one day!
How do you see being a part of the sevens in the UK as helping your sevens career?
Well having guys like Mike Friday and Terry Sands around helps that a lot - but the difference in play over here is quite different - it’s quite structured and different from back home. Playing with guys like Lote, Ed, and Vilk has been great and I can learn a lot from them.
Who’s your Sevens Idol?
Easy - that’s Christian Cullen - he’s awesome - I used to watch him on TV when I was younger and love his skill and style, he used to be my next door neighbor too for a little while (laughs) but in today’s game - I would say it would have to be either Tomassi or Lote - and getting to play with Lote this week has been pretty awesome!
If you found yourself on the IRB circuit, how would you feel playing against such physical teams as South Africa and Samoa?
If I did ever get the chance, I think it would take me a while to get used to it, but I think after a while I would block it out and concentrate on my normal game and try and get used to it. I would definitely give it my all!
Last question - if you could wear one sevens kit on a pitch, any kit from any team in the world, and play for that team - who would it be - past or present?
That would definitely have to be where it all started for me - with the boys back at Horowhenua Kapiti. They were good times!
Thanks a lot Warrick! Interview by Alex Foster
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