Pon­sonby rugby great re­mem­bered

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS - By MICHAEL FIELD AND DUN­CAN JOHN­STONE

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.

Photo: ARCHIVE - FAIR­FAX HIS­TOR­I­CAL COL­LEC­TION

Rough di­a­mond: Pon­sonby prop Peter Fa­tialofa bursts a tackle as he leads yet an­other Ponies’ for­ward charge against Paku­ranga at Eden Park in 1988.

Photo: GRA­HAME COX

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.

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