Entering the room like a prize-fighter in Vegas, Freddie Tuilagi had the Grand Ballroom at the Intercontinental, Kuala Lumpur on their feet before he had even made it upon stage.
After less than 24 hours on the ground in Malaysia and spending the day in 30 degree heat, coaching youngsters from four year’s old through to that of the fifteen and sixteen year olds in the KL Tigers Academy Squad, the former Leicester and Samoan rugby star couldn’t have been blamed for any lack of energy.
However, on the contrary, Tuilagi senior was on his chair with hands in the air … and waving them around, like he just did not care!
Thankfully, that is.
Invited to speak at the KL Tigers Annual Rugby Ball, Tuilagi was following former speakers from Leicester that include England and Tigers legend Peter Wheeler and life-long Tiger Sam Harrison in making the trip to the Global Partner Club for a fast-paced, fun-filled weekend with the furthest away members of the Tigers Family from the East Midlands.
Sharing stories from his decorated career, including the journey that took him from Samoa to the north of England for a stint in rugby league before settling in Leicester and beginning one of the Tigers biggest family dynasties, Tuilagi senior was a hit according KL Tigers Head Coach Gary Cane.
“The speech was great, very funny and everyone enjoyed it,” Cane said.
"The full-on Samoan dance experience was by far the best part of the night!”Gary Cane - KL Tigers
“But the full-on Samoan dance experience was by far the best part of the night!”
That’s right, the Samoan dance! How could we forget?
With his speech done and dusted, the evening’s awards handed out, raffle and auctions complete and an impromptu room-wide performance of Sweet Caroline thrown in for good measure, the encore of the event was led by Tuilagi himself as he and four KL Tigers coaches entered the stage in full Samoan dress and entertained the 250 guests with their own ‘unique’ rendition of a tribal dance from the Pacific Island nation.
It wasn’t all entertainment though, with more than 40,000 Ringgit (Malaysia’s currency) raised on the night, including almost 9,000 Ringgit for the Matt Hampson Foundation and KL Tigers official club charities.
“The remaining money will top up our sponsorship and bursary fund, which currently supports or fully sponsors more than 20 players in the club whose families are on low incomes and need our help for them to play rugby,” Cane told LeicesterTigers.com
For a closer look at what Tuilagi got up to in Kuala Lumpur with the Global Partner Club, including on the pitch with youngsters, check out the video below exclusively on LTTV.