Willis Halaholo

Willis Halaholo of Cardiff with his wife and five daughters on the occasion of his 100th game. Pix: URC

Willis Halaholo Has Been Through Tough Times At Cardiff . . . And That Was Just Being Dad!

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By Simon Thomas

Willis Halaholo has five daughters, aged 15, nine, six, four and ten months respectively.

So what’s life like at home for the Cardiff Rugby centre and his wife?

“It’s carnage, mate! It’s full on,” he replies.

“I am pretty much running my own nursery in my house.

“But I wouldn’t have it any other way. I am big on family.

“I do give a lot of advice to the boys who have got new borns, in terms of the things to buy and all that.”

Halaholo is quick to acknowledge the part his family played in keeping him going during an extremely challenging period last year.

In March, he suffered a serious Achilles injury, just a couple of days before he was due to make his return against Ulster in the BKT United Rugby Championship after five months out with hamstring damage.

Then he found himself out of work, his seven-year stay at the Arms Park seemingly over with no new contract having been put in place.

But, in the autumn, he was brought back on board via a short-team deal and now that has been extended through until the end of the season.

Looking back on what he went through, he says: “It has been tough, I’m not going to lie, probably the toughest 12 months of my career, not only because of the injuries, but everything that comes with it.

“Having to deal with not knowing where you are going to be and how you are going to provide for your family. That was the hardest part.

“A lot has happened. Just going back to the injury, I had my operation and then two weeks later I had my fifth daughter.

“It was tough during that period when I was out of contract, deciding do I stay and stick it out or do I just pack it in and think about life after rugby.

“Luckily, I had a lot of people around me who were really supportive.

“My family were my main motivator for giving it a go again. There were lots of thoughts and doubts about whether I could get back playing at this level. But they really motivated me to get back on it. They missed coming to the Arms Park and watching the games.

“Especially with my fifth daughter born, I didn’t want her to miss out on seeing her dad playing on the Arms Park.”

With his contract extended, the 33-year-old Halaholo is now in a much more settled frame of mind.

“It was tough playing with that anxiety going on, trying not to think about getting injured, but I am just happy we have got it over the line,” he said.

“I am going to enjoy it more now knowing I am here for the rest of the season.

“It was always the goal to try and stay on. I am comfortable here with my family and enjoying it here. I am just happy we were able to get it sorted.”

Halaholo joined Cardiff from the Hurricanes of New Zealand in 2016 and has made more than 100 appearances, while also winning five Wales caps, having qualified on residency.

“The club is massive to me. When I look back on my career, most of it will be based here in Cardiff,” he said.

“I have got three kids born here. I will remember this place for the rest of my life really, wherever I am after this.

“You’ve always got one eye on what’s next, but I can only focus on week to week and playing well for Cardiff. We will see how it goes. I am just looking at getting back to my best.”

When his playing career does finally come to an end, does he maybe see himself and his family staying on in Wales?

“I have thought about it and me and my wife are talking about it,” he replies.

“My kids love it here. My eldest is starting to get interested in playing a bit of rugby.

“They come and speak to me in Welsh all the time, saying little sentences and I am saying ‘What?’. It’s good for them.

“So we are definitely thinking of staying here long term. We will just see how it goes.”

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