Four servants of Wellington rugby will farewell the province after tomorrow's Air New Zealand Cup final, but win, lose or draw they will leave with a smile.
Thomas Waldrom, Ross Filipo, Tane Tu'ipulotu and Chris Masoe will be playing their final match for the Lions - against Canterbury - and they have clearly had a blast.
Rugby may be a serious business for Barney, Floss, King and Mussy, but put in the same room together yesterday the true colours of four characters weren't hard to find.
"A lowlight is being stuck on 49 games," Filipo kicked things off when asked to nominate a highlight. "I'm spewing, that can't be right, can it? I must have played some pre-season game somewhere that counts."
There is a brief attempt to take this farewell interview seriously.
"Playing with my mates that I've grown up with," Filipo says. "Making new friends along the way. I will never forget the friends I've made."
The moment is interrupted by Waldrom: "That was really deep, Floss" before the room erupts.
Tane? A highlight?
"Just the whole five years I have been here with the Lions has been the highlight for me really," the talented Tongan-born midfielder says.
What about the Ranfurly Shield?
"Yeah, and I've got the opportunity to win it again next year," Christchurch-bound Filipo says with a grin as Masoe bounds into the room with the same exuberance as his play.
Highlights Chris? Funny moments?
"Morag Bellingham," Masoe laughs and turns to a frowning Waldrom.
"From Home and Away!" All four are shocked I'm not a regular viewer of the Australian afternoon soap, and don't know the red-headed actress.
Clearly, there will be no deep and meaningful interview here. Perhaps it's better to summarise their careers for them.
Waldrom has played 79 games since 2002, a tireless loose forward who at just 25 will be a massive loss as he heads to Hawke's Bay for more regular game time.
Petone All Black Filipo has played 48 games, but is moving to Christchurch to be with his young family, while underrated former Aucklander Tu'ipulotu is heading to the Newcastle Falcons after 32 games since 2004.
Masoe, a 20-test All Black who arrived from Taranaki in 2005, is heading to France, but has one final thing to add.
"I just want to go out there and win the bloody thing," he said of the quartet's final match.
Finally, a serious notion that all four shared.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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