Thu, Oct 14, 2021 6:09 AM

Tevita returns to Tasman

Tevita Koloamatangi scored the opening try of the 2013 championship semifinal against Southland. Photo: Shuttersport

Jonty Dine

Tevita Koloamatangi’s days in the Mako jersey appeared to be over.

However, following a string of injuries to the team, Tevita was unexpectedly recalled to the squad after a five-year absence.

At 33, Tevita is now the elder statesman in the side, a fact that is particularly pleasing to the former holder of that title.

“It was Quentin MacDonald, but he’s made it known that he isn’t the oldest anymore, so he is happy.”

Tevita opted to move to Nelson in the wake of the Covid pandemic and set up roots with his wife and two children aged five and two.

He and wife Belinda own F45 in Nelson and Richmond as well as Body Pulse with the businessman now also juggling his rugby commitments.

“I had thought about it, but I didn’t expect it. The Mako are always in the heart as this is where things started for me.”

The former Tongan-international is more than willing to offer his vast experience whether it comes in the form of getting back on Trafalgar Park or simply holding a hit shield for a teammate.

“I’m just happy to help out where needed.”

The powerful Tongan’s career was almost tragically cut short back in 2016 after numerous concussions.

Tevita suffered four in the space of just 12 months while playing Super Rugby and ITM Cup.

A fifth and most serious came while playing for London Irish and after just one appearance for the English club, Tevita’s contract was terminated, and he was forced back home.

With a foggy mind, short temper, and young child, Tevita seriously contemplated calling it a career.

“I was forgetting stuff and the little things just pissed me off.”

However, Tevita was thrown a lifeline in the form of a contract to join South Mazda based in Hiroshima, Japan.

With less emphasis on the physical side of the game and more focus on speed, Tevita was able to carry less weight and endure less destructive collisions.

“I didn’t want to be brain-dead, but I was really lucky. I have friends who have had to give up the game and are still suffering.”

Another benefit was the less professional nature of the club which enable Tevita to spend plenty of time with his family.

“Most of the guys worked for Mazda and wouldn’t finish till 4pm so we had the days to ourselves.”

Tevita has also returned to his home club, Stoke, where he intends to finish his illustrious career.

“I will keep playing club till the wheels fall off.”

As well as sharing his on-field knowledge with the next generation of players, Tevita is also mentoring at risk youth at his former school, Nelson College.

As a rugby player, Tevita is used to quick results whether it be win, lose or draw however has had to adjust to attaining more gradual success.

“You need to invest your time, build a rapport and relationship. It’s more of a long haul.”

The 37-cap Mako believes despite a shaky start, the Mako is more than capable of achieving a three-peat this season.

“It’s doable but it will be different, and it needs to be, that’s how you keep that edge.”

Tevita says he has been incredibly impressed with how far the side has progressed since leaving in 2016.

“From where we were in 2010 where we would win one or two games to being at the top is unreal and Goody (coach Andrew Goodman) has had a lot to do with that. To know you have been a part of that legacy is pretty special.”