Thu, May 23, 2024 12:00 PM

Overcoming injury and age to bring up 100 games


Jack Malcolm

Tevita Koloamatangi always knew that he wanted to finish off his playing career where it all started.

As a Stoke Rugby Club man through-and-through, it was icing on the cake as he ran out for his 100th game with the team after making his premier debut in 2009.

“I played all my JAB here, from U8 right up to U14s. This club means a lot to me,” he says.

“Being brought up down on Karaka Street, I didn’t have much and this place was a way to stay out of trouble. I owe this club a lot.”

But his compatriots wouldn’t agree that Tevita owes them anything, having been a core member of the team for their back-to-back titles in 2009 and ‘10 and dedicating years of service to the club.

He was emotional after the game as friends, family and workmates showered him in congratulations, saying he wasn’t even meant to play this season.

Tevita Koloamatangi played a full 80 minutes in his 100th game last weekend. Photo: Barry Whitnall/Shuttersport.

Tevita was told in the off season that his knee injury meant he’d only be able to come off the bench and play up to 20 minutes a game.

“But in the preseason it felt really good and I said ‘stuff it’ and here we are.”

On top of a long premier grade career, Tevita also notched up 43 caps for the Mako, played 10 games for the Chiefs and made his international debut for Tonga in 2016.

Tevita also spent a season with the London Irish and played 25 games for Skyactivs Hiroshima over four seasons.

“I’ve travelled around the whole world and it was always the plan to come back and finish off my career here,” he says

“Getting to 100 games, it’s definitely up there at the top [in terms of accolades].”

At 37-years-old, Tevita is by far the most senior player in the team and says a lot of the young players look up to him.

Stoke coach Joe Kirker says it wasn’t going to be hard to pick who was going to be player of the day after Tevita’s 100th game.

“We’re really stoked. The whole week was really built around Tevita’s 100th [game].“Everyone talked before the game about bringing everyone's standards up to the ones he holds us to.”

Added to the celebrations was Stoke’s win over Marist, the first time they’ve beaten their old rivals in Joe’s three years as coach.

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