Gloucester Rugby: Almost a sting in the tail for Lua Lokotui's Kingsholm switch
LUA Lokotui has revealed he chose Gloucester over a crack at the Super 15 with Wellington Hurricanes, or a move back to France or Japan.
But the 33-year-old Tongan lock's Premiership switch would never have happened had his agent not double-checked his facts.
Lokotui toured the Northern Hemisphere with Tonga in the autumn, keen to impress on international duty and secure a move to England.
When whispers of Premiership interest whipped up, Lokotui said he jumped at the chance – even more so when he found out the actual club who were keen.
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"Before the autumn tour there was some talk of interest in Europe, and my agent said it was London Wasps," explained the former Stade Francais and Wellington second-row.
"So that whole time I was thinking it was Wasps, but he got mixed up and it was Gloucester!
"When I found out it was Gloucester that were interested it was massive though.
"I signed for Wellington to play in the National Provincial Championship after the World Cup, and I had an option to stay with the Hurricanes at the end of the year.
"There were a couple of potential options in France and Japan too, but I really wanted to come to England.
"Things went well with Wellington, and at the time I said to my wife 'I've got a bit left in me here' so she told me to give it a good go.
"I went on tour with Tonga, my agent was talking to clubs at the time, this offer then came up and I didn't need much time to say yes."
Tonga team-mate Sione Kalamafoni employed the powers of social media to give Gloucester the big sell.
And now Lokotui is relishing the hard Kingsholm graft.
The former Hawke's Bay captain sealed his Gloucester move on December 12 – but did not arrive at Kingsholm until last week, as he had to wait for his visa.
Targeting silverware in his 18 months with the Cherry and Whites, Lokotui said he would not have left New Zealand if he was not intent on winning trophies in England.
He continued: "I was on Facebook messaging Sione all the time, and he was telling me how much he was loving it, and what was going on.
"He really loves it here, and I think that was important in my decision to come here.
"I just like to get my head down and do the hard yards.
"I'll let those young guys do the flash stuff and I'll just get stuck into the tight work.
"The goal is definitely to win trophies, we need to push towards that.
"We've got to push ourselves hard to make that happen.
"I want to learn from the experienced players here, try to feed off that to help myself settle well.
"I wouldn't have come halfway around the world with my family if I wasn't serious about this move."
Gloucester host rivals Bath in an LV=Cup West Country derby on Saturday (kick-off 2pm).
Lokotui made his debut in Saturday's 26-7 Northampton defeat, and admitted this week has been spent understanding the depth of the local derby feeling.
He added: "The boys have been chirping in my ears about this game being must-win, that it doesn't matter how we do it, but we've just got to get the result.
"It's going to be a massive game and I can't wait to get out in front of the Kingsholm crowd.
"I've heard great things about Kingsholm, it will be a fantastic experience – but we've just got to win this game."