Heartbreak off field for Rams hard man
On the rugby league field, Kieran Turuwhenua is a strapping second-row forward, not to be messed with.
Away from the game, the man nicknamed "Chee" is a courageous family man who has had to overcome plenty of adversity during the past two years.
Eighteen months ago, Turuwhenua's Southland-raised partner, Alanz Kingi, was diagnosed with a terminal form of bowel cancer, known as carcinoid syndrome. She is undergoing chemotherapy and doctors have told her she has a limited number of years to live.
The news came as a major shock for the sporty couple and their 3-year-old son Arana.
In February last year, things went from bad to worse for Turuwhenua, when his Aranui house was badly damaged in the Christchurch earthquake.
Turuwhenua and his family made the decision to move down to Invercargill this year to be closer to Kingi's relatives and escape the aftershocks, which were unsettling for their son.
"We seem to enjoy it down here. It's a lot warmer than we thought it would be," he said.
Turuwhenua, 29, was a talented player in Christchurch - spending nine seasons in the Canterbury premiership competition with Aranui and Halswell and spent two seasons with the Canterbury A team in 2004 and 2005.
As a youngster he was a member of the Aranui High School team that won the national secondary schools competition in 2000.
The Aranui High team featured All Blacks prop Ben Franks, former junior Kiwi Jade Rauhihi and ex-NRL player Rob Tanielu, who had a nine-game stint with Brisbane, Melbourne and North Queensland between 2002 and 2006.
When he moved to Southland, Turuwhenua linked up with the championship-winning Cooks team and was one of the best performers in the club competition this year.
Turuwhenua was one of the first names on the team sheet when new Southland Rams coach Warrick Anderson was selecting his squad for the representative season.
In last weekend's opening-round 34-26 win over the Otago Whalers, Turuwhenua got through a ton of work and was an integral performer for the team.
"They're a great bunch of guys down here. Anderson has been a strong influence on the team," he said.
"He's brought in some good stuff from Canterbury. It's been good to be able to get him down here."
The Provincial Drainage Ltd-sponsored Rams will be looking to make it two from two in the South Island provincial competition when they make the eight-hour drive up to Greymouth to play the West Coast Chargers tomorrow.
West Coast started the season with a 42-22 loss to Tasman last weekend but Turuwhenua warned they would be a difficult proposition in front of their passionate home fans at Wingham Park.
"I haven't heard much about West Coast. They'll be a bit stronger at home. The fields get pretty wet over there. We've been working on our defensive patterns this week trying to get our marker ‘D' solid.
"We were a wee bit weak around the ruck last week."
Kickoff is at 5pm tomorrow.
Southland Rams: Javaan Fa'amoe-Ioane, Maurice Tala, Cheyenne Hiko, Rocky Pettigrew, Stacey Thompson, Korey Pennicott (c), Jayleel Fa'amoe-Ioane, Rahiri Collins, Tom Watts, Matt Birch, Kieran Turuwhenua, Sam Mullins, Omeka Raimona.
Interchange: Hone Adams, Wiremu Karetai, Zane Hiko, Sonny Rangitoheriri, Zane Hiko (18th man)
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