Michael Burgess

Michael Burgess is the football and rugby league writer for the Herald on Sunday.

League: Mum played major influence in Kasiano decision

Sam Kasiano. Photo / Getty Images
Sam Kasiano. Photo / Getty Images

Sam's our man - and it was never going to be any other way.

Though his representative allegiance was the subject of much debate on both sides of the Tasman, Sam Kasiano has revealed that the Kangaroos jersey was never really an option, despite the temptations of State of Origin.

"Playing for the Kiwis [is]the best decision I have ever made," said Kasiano, "I was never going to go to Australia - I just can't see myself in those colours man. I just wanted to focus on the Bulldogs [season] first."

While officials and fans wondered and waited about his decision, even his mother Kalala, who shares a house with Kasiano in Sydney, was left in the dark.

"He doesn't tell me a lot - that's how quiet he is," said Kalala, "I found out [about his Kiwis decision] from the newspaper. I should have been the first [to know] but I was the last."

Kalala, seen as a major influence, confirmed she had encouraged Kasiano to opt for New Zealand.

"I said do what you want to do [and] take it from the heart but I will be proud of you if you go for the Kiwis," said Kalala. "[I told him] that whatever he decided we will go with it but just know that you are a Kiwi and you don't want to go through what James [Tamou] went through. Then I left it up to him. I think eventually the pressure got out of hand with the media and the problem is he doesn't talk very much, he's a bit quiet and very shy and [that] made it worse."

The prop had a big impact last Saturday night, consistently bending the Australian defensive line and carrying the ball further than any other Kiwis forward, despite being on the field for less than 40 minutes.

"I thought he was great," said Kiwis coach Stephen Kearney, "It was as good a start by a front rower in a debut as I have seen. He really bent the line back and was outstanding for us."

Kasiano, who showed no sign of nerves, was content but knows more is required ahead of the World Cup defence in 2013.

"It was alright but it can be better," said Kasiano. "I'm proud of the team and everyone played great. We just fell short but we'll come back bigger and better next year."

Last week Kasiano struggled with the various team initiation processes in camp, taking numerous attempts to make a speech and sing a song in front of the team, but he was successfully taught the haka by Bulldogs teammate Frank Pritchard.

"Singing's not really my thing but the haka was okay," said Kasiano. "Frank [was] my roomie and I asked him to show me the moves".

Like Pritchard, Kasiano has a signature bushy beard but confirmed it's days were numbered.

"I like my [beard] but I'll get rid of it [this] week," said Kasiano. "Next year I'm going to grow some hair - no more beard, grow the hair."

- Herald on Sunday

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