Born: 20 March, 1981 – Auckland
Test record: 2 Tests (2004-05) – 2 goals (4 points)
Tours: 2004 Tri Nations
A powerful three-quarter who developed into a back-row option later in his career, Auckland-born Jamahl Lolesi turned out for three NRL clubs and represented New Zealand in two Tests before rounding out a fine career in England. Of Samoan and Irish descent, Lolesi progressed from junior football with Gold Coast club Southport Tigers to earn a contract with Canberra.
The teenager scored five tries in 11 rookie-season games for the Raiders in 2000 at wing and centre – including two finals appearances – and was a potent try-poacher in ensuing seasons in the lime green jersey, including a career-best haul of 14 in 25 games in 2003. Lolesi’s outstanding form saw the Bulldogs snap up his services for 2004 and he was a permanent first-grade fixture for the heavyweights, alternating between wing and centre. But after scoring nine tries in as many games (taking his season total to 13) as the Bulldogs went on a lengthy winning streak in the second half of the season, Lolesi was struck down by injury and missed their charge to grand final glory.
Selection in New Zealand’s 2004 Tri Nations squad at the end of the year offered Lolesi some comfort; he was not required for any tournament fixtures, but made his Test debut in the unfamiliar fullback spot in a narrow win over France and played in the combined Anzacs’ heavy defeat of Cumbria.
The 24-year-old was chosen on the wing for the Kiwis’ early-season assignment against Australia in 2005, landing two goals in a 32-16 loss at Suncorp Stadium – his last international appearance.
After a strong season in the centres for the Bulldogs, Lolesi joined Wests Tigers in 2006 and was a versatile asset for the defending premiers. ‘Jammer the Hammer’ made 10 appearances at lock, as well as starts at wing, centre and five-eighth.
Lolesi spent the next four seasons at Huddersfield – predominantly as a winger/centre but also featuring regularly in the back-row – and played in the club’s Challenge Cup final loss to Warrington in 2009. A back injury forced Lolesi into retirement in 2011, but he stayed on as an assistant to Giants coach Nathan Brown, who he followed to St Helens in 2013 as part of the coaching staff. Lolesi stayed on at Saints until the end of 2018.