Sam Lousi playing rugby for the right reasons as he prepares for NPC season

Wellington lock Sam Lousi tries to break through two tacklers during a preseason game against Canterbury last Friday.
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Wellington lock Sam Lousi tries to break through two tacklers during a preseason game against Canterbury last Friday.

Inside Sam Lousi's 1.99-metre, 127-kilogram frame lies a heart as big as they come.

It's not that beating red thing in his chest, rather it's the driving force behind why he plays rugby.

"One hundred per cent of what I do is for my family. It's why I started playing," he said.

Sam Lousi is ready for his first New Zealand provincial rugby season with the Wellington Lions.
KEVIN STENT/FAIRFAX NZ

Sam Lousi is ready for his first New Zealand provincial rugby season with the Wellington Lions.

"Although I have fun playing the game I love, at the end of the day I just do it to really support them and give back to my parents for how much they put into me when I was younger."

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His mother, Mele, worked for years on an overnight shift as a caregiver, while his father Viliame worked as a mechanic. 

Sam Lousi busts through a Highlanders player's tackle while playing for the Waratahs in a preseason game in February.
Rob Jefferies

Sam Lousi busts through a Highlanders player's tackle while playing for the Waratahs in a preseason game in February.

Lousi knows the hard yards they put in to ensure he, his brother Sione - who plays rugby league for the New Zealand Warriors - and their four sisters were given every opportunity to make the most of their lives.

"I don't think anything I do can repay what they did for me when I was younger, but I can at least try with this."

The 'this' he refers to is professional rugby.

He has landed at the Wellington Lions and Hurricanes until the end of 2018, following a two-season stint at the New South Wales Waratahs.

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He started out with his brother at the Warriors, but after nine senior games in three seasons former Waratahs and current Australia rugby coach Michael Cheika came calling in 2014 with an offer he couldn't refuse.

The decision to leave the Waratahs at the end of his contract in July was not easy, he said.

"Although I enjoyed my time at the Waratahs, I thought I needed a bit of a change and I couldn't turn down the opportunity to come here."

The aim for the national provincial championship season is to absorb as much knowledge as he can from a Lions pack which should eventually feature Super Rugby players such as Vaea Fifita, Brad Shields and Mark Reddish.

"My main goal is just to take it a week at a time and just learn as much as possible. Training is where all the hard work is, I've just got to get my head down and work hard and see where that takes me.

"The Lions boys have been really good. There are a lot of Pacific Islanders, so we kind of understand each other."

How many Super Rugby players Wellington have at their disposal for their season opener against Hawke's Bay in Napier this Saturday will be revealed when their team is named later in the week.

It is safe to say they won't all be there, especially the Hurricanes players, giving Lousi a chance to start in his first game for the team.

He's played well in the Lions' three preseason wins over Tasman, Manawatu and Canterbury, but knows his starting spot must be earned and will be happy with whatever gametime he earns.

"Wherever [coach] Earl [Va'a] needs me I'll put my best foot forward."

Lumping a 127kg frame around the field can be hard going, but Lousi said there were no solid plans to trim down just yet.

"I guess it depends on how well I go and how well I last on the field."

No matter how long he lasts, you can expect him to play his heart out for his both his team-mates, and to make his family proud.

 - Stuff

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