Milestone for South Canterbury's midfield rock
Tongan Fa'aitu Tuamoheloa will prove his value to New Zealand rugby when he racks up his 50th game for South Canterbury on Saturday.
South Canterbury host Thames Valley in a Lochore Cup semifinal, which Tuamoheloa said would make the occasion something to remember.
The 33-year-old midfield back has also played 53 games for North Otago, as well as being on the fringes of the Southland side for a couple of years.
The classy Tuamoheloa has impressed everywhere he has been since he arrived at the Mackenzie Rugby Club as a fresh-faced 20-year-old with plenty of ability.
Work and rugby opportunities then took him to Oamaru and then Invercargill before he returned to Fairlie.
His skills have also seen him play for the New Zealand Divisional XV and the New Zealand Heartland side.
Tuamoheloa joked he had no intention of playing representative rugby this year but was pulled off the couch by South Canterbury coach Chester Scott.
He does, however, still love playing rugby and admits it is always special to play for a provincial team, especially at playoffs time.
"I am really looking forward to it, Thames Valley will be tough but it is the same for any semifinal."
Tuamoheloa said beating Thames Valley was more important than him notching up a half-century of appearances for South Canterbury.
"I would love to play the final here."
On his time playing rugby in New Zealand, Tuamoheloa said it had gone quickly.
"Time goes fast and I never thought I would play so many rep games."
The trick was to stay fit and avoid injuries, he said.
He has been helped in that regard by the physical nature of his jobs. He started out by pruning trees and these days works on a dairy farm.
At 100kg, he has a physical presence but it is his ability to read the game and create opportunities for the players around him that sets him apart.
Scott said Tuamoheloa was a class player with special attributes.
"He is very competitive and expects the best from himself and the players around him. He doesn't mind letting them know if they need to lift their game."
Scott said he also brought great balance to the side with his experience and maturity.
"He is a tough defender and Fa'aitu gives us some options on attack as he can hold a defence or go through it, he is a very skilled player."
Tuamoheloa is hoping his three children, Anna, Naite and Viliami, will attend the game but unfortunately his partner, Mele, is working.
- © Fairfax NZ News