The Utah Warriors signed center Paul Lasike from the Harlequins of Premiership Rugby. The 31-year-old center is 5’11” and 250 lbs.
Paul grew up in Takapuna, New Zealand, and was one of ten children from an ethnic Tongan family. He began playing rugby when he was 8 years old and attended both Westlake Boys High School, as well as, the now-defunct Church College of New Zealand. There he played rugby, volleyball in school, and representative youth rugby for Waikato Under 16s and Under 18s. In 2006 he was on the training squad for the New Zealand Under-17s.
After finishing school at the Church College of New Zealand, Lasike came to Highland and won a US High School National Championship in 2008 with Coach Larry Gelwix.
Paul received a rugby scholarship at Brigham Young University, attending from 2009-2014 where he earned All-American honors and help lead the Cougars to four National Championships. His time at BYU was split as he went on a two-year Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints mission in Alabama. Like many students at BYU, Paul married in 2012, to Ani Vieira Lasike, a native of Brazil, who moved to California with her family when she was a teenager.
When he returned to BYU, “his speed and hard running style also caught the attention of the Football team.” As a walk-on, he earned a scholarship to play running back for the Cougars, and was named a team captain his senior year. He played 38 games, starting 19, and had 843 career rushing yards. In 2013 the team was ranked 10th Nationally, and in 2014 he was named to the College Sports Madness All_independent Third Team.
Paul graduated in 2014 with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Physical Education and taught at Pleasant Grove High School in 2016. In between, he signed as a free agent with the NFL Arizona Cardinals as a running back in 2015 and then the same year with the Chicago Bears, where he played two seasons at fullback.
Paul joined the Major League Rugby Utah Warriors ahead of the 2018 season, and as the captain and cap #1, played 524 minutes, starting all seven matches and scoring one try.
In 2018 he made his debut for the USA Men’s National Rugby Team at the Americas Rugby Championship against Argentina XV and then earned his first cap as Eagle 524 against Chile at Fullerton, California on February 17. The last of his 19 matches, and 17 starts, came against Tonga at the 2019 Rugby World Cup at Osaka, Japan on October 13. In test matches, he also scored six tries.
After his impressive showing in 2018, Lasike signed with the Harlequins of Premiership Rugby in the United Kingdom. He made 29 appearances in four seasons with the 2021 Premiership Champions, scoring five tries. He not only played in English Premiership matches but in European Rugby Challenge Cup and Champions Cup matches, as well.
In 2022 he was loaned by the Harlequins to the London Scottish after he resumed playing after an injury.
Paul is a family man and returning to the United States to play again with the Utah Warriors, means that he will be able to spend more time with his family, an intangible benefit.
Utah Warriors Comments
“From the first time I saw Paul play rugby in high school, you could tell he was different,” said Warriors Co-Founder and CEO, Kimball Kjar, “As a player, he’s one of the top talents I’ve seen come out of the state of Utah and having him return to the Warriors will give the team not only an unbelievable talent, but we’ll also add a great person this community will be able to rally around.”
“It is always special to bring someone like Paul home,” said Warriors General Manager Brandon Sparks. “His contribution on the field of play is easy to see but where we will experience the biggest impact is his leadership and professionalism. He will complement our current leadership while also providing guidance to our younger players that have similar ambitions to what he has accomplished.”
“I’m really happy to get back to where it all started,” said Lasike. “I played some of my high school and my collegiate rugby in Utah, and the Warriors was where I got my start in professional rugby. So, to come back home and play for them is awesome for me and my family. I’m excited to get started with the boys in Utah and hopefully do something special this season.”
Lasike will join the Warriors in late March, following the culmination of the Six Nations Tournament and once he has been granted leave from the Harlequins.