Junior keen to cement Reds spot

by RUGBY.com.au staff

First he was the Prince, then the “Ballymore Kid” but now Junior Laloifi just wants to be a regular starting Queensland Reds player.

Laloifi’s stand out NRC season for Brisbane City saw him finish as the competition’s leading try scorer in a championship year, and win a contract with the Queensland Reds.

His pathway to Super Rugby hasn’t been conventional, all the way up to being plucked from City in a newly created competition for uncontracted Queensland NRC players.

Living in Melbourne, he was introduced to Sevens without little knowledge of the trimmed down version of the game.

Then it was former Wallabies winger Digby Ioane who introduced him to top flight club rugby in Queensland, before then Sevens coach Michael O’Connor pulled him into the national ranks.

“I was introduced to a 7s tournament wasn’t sure what it was played my first tournament over there and then a mate of mine decided to bring me to Sunnybank,” he asid.

“I played for Sunnybank and Michael O’Connor picked me up from there.”

The 21-year-old is still pinching himself that he is a fully-fledged member of a Super Rugby side but is determined to make the most of his opportunity.

The speedster, who has previously been a part of the national Sevens program, said he was the last one to expect the meteoric rise he has had in 2015.

“It was pretty much a complete shock because last year I was pretty much on the bench coming just as a back up but this year I’m starting,” he said.

“(Brisbane City coach) Nick Stiles put a lot of faith in me a lot of credit goes to him.

“I’m still getting over the fact I’m now a Queensland Reds member but it’s been pretty exciting the last few weeks.

“I can’t really get my mind around it.”

Laloifi wasn’t short of top flight influences at Brisbane City, with the line-up more closely resembling a Super Rugby starting team than a provincial side but it was code-hopper Karmichael Hunt who left the greatest impression.

“As an outside back, you look towards another outside back,” he said.

“A leader of the outside backs is Karmichael, his experience playing Super Rugby, playing for the Broncos, Kangaroos,

“He knows a lot more than any of us talked to him be quiet and listen and at training he just drives us around the park which helps a lot.”

While he might outgrow the ‘Ballymore Kid’, Laloifi might be stuck being the ‘Prince’ of Queensland’s spiritual home.

“Last year at the (NRC) grand final, we had a jersey presentation the manager decided to call me Purple Rain...because I have hair that reminds him of Prince the singer.”