Ponsonby rugby great remembered
Rugby stalwart Peter Fatialofa will be remembered as a ‘‘larger than life’’ character at his former Ponsonby club.
The 54-year-old died in Samoa on Wednesday of what appears to be a heart attack.
Former All Black and Ponsonby Rugby’s Bryan Williams says his fellow Samoan and club stalwart contributed more than just a love of the game.
‘‘What he did for Samoa, for Auckland and for Ponsonby was far more than just rugby,’’ he says.
‘‘He transcended boundaries and brought people together.’’
Fatialofa, better known as Fats, was to be remembered by his old club at a gathering at the Ponsonby Rugby clubrooms last night.
He spent much of his childhood in Samoa before bursting on to the Auckland rugby scene with his powerhouse performances for the famed Ponsonby club side.
He played 72 games for Auckland and was part of their Ranfurly Shield reign from 1985 to 1993. The burly prop, who had the Samoan chiefly title of Papali’itele, was often the custodian of the Log o’ Wood.
He became a cult figure with his strength honed from working his furniture removal business and became known as New Zealand’s most famous pianomover.
Fatialofa’s death sent shockwaves across the rugby and wider community on Twitter.
All Black Dan Carter wrote: ‘‘Peter has & always will be one of the true rugby legends’’.
Fellow All Black Liam Messam said it was ‘‘a sad day for the Samoan people’’, while Auckland Mayor Len Brown tweeted that all Aucklanders’ ‘‘thoughts go out to the Fatialofa family with the loss one of our great Auckland and Samoan rugby legends’’.
Fatialofa played for Manu Samoa between 1988 and 1996, making 34 test appearances.
He played in two World Cups, most famously leading Samoa into the quarterfinals in 1991 with a huge upset win over Wales at Cardiff Arms Park.
Fatialofa was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of merit in 1996 for his services to rugby before moving back to Samoa.
Rough diamond: Ponsonby prop Peter Fatialofa bursts a tackle as he leads yet another Ponies’ forward charge against Pakuranga at Eden Park in 1988.
Legend remembered: Ponsonby Rugby Club is mourning the loss of club stalwart Peter Fatialofa.
Go to aucklandcityharbour news.co.nz and click on Latest Edition to watch a video of Peter Fatialofa.