Born: 1 August, 1979 – Mount Isa
Test record: 22 Tests (2006, 2008-12) – 5 tries (20 points)
Tours: 2006 Tri Nations, 2008 World Cup, 2009 Four Nations, 2010 Four Nations, 2011 Four Nations

Former Queensland State of Origin rep Nathan Fien was embroiled in controversy amid his maiden Kiwis campaign in 2006, but the hooker/half recovered to play 22 Tests for New Zealand and feature prominently in two of the nation’s greatest-ever victories.

Mount Isa-born Fien broke into the NRL in 2000 with North Queensland Cowboys as a tenacious halfback, while his versatility earned a solitary Origin appearance off the bench (after being named at hooker) for the Maroons in 2001.

Fien was integral to the long-suffering Cowboys qualifying for their first finals series in 2004 – reaching a preliminary final from seventh – but was part of the Warriors’ aggressive recruitment drive for 2005.

A valuable performer and wholehearted competitor at five-eighth, halfback or hooker, Fien’s consistent form for the Warriors resulted in a call-up to the Kiwis’ 2006 Tri Nations squad – on the understanding that he qualified for selection by virtue of having a New Zealand-born grandmother.

Fien made his Test debut as an interchange in New Zealand’s 20-15 loss to Australia in Melbourne, then started at halfback in an 18-14 victory over Great Britain in Christchurch. Following the latter match, it was discovered Fien was ineligible – in was in fact his great grandmother who had been born in New Zealand – and the Kiwis were stripped of the two points earned for their win, while Fien was banished from the remainder of the tournament.

Nevertheless, Fien remained a key figure for the Warriors as they finished in the top four in 2007 and made a memorable charge to a preliminary final in 2008. He qualified for New Zealand on residential grounds in 2008 and was duly picked in the Kiwis’ World Cup squad.

Fien played hooker in a warm-up match against Tonga and all three World Cup pool fixtures, scoring a try in a 36-24 win over England. He and halfback Thomas Leuluai swapped positions for the semi-final and final, however, with Fien wearing the No.7 and having a hand in the last two tries as the Kiwis stunned the Kangaroos 34-20 in the final.

Despite his international heroics, Fien was dropped for first grade at the Warriors in 2009 – but he landed on his feet, snapped up by his former Origin coach and Kiwis World Cup assistant Wayne Bennett’s St George Illawarra Dragons. Fien played all five matches of New Zealand’s schedule that year (the Anzac Test, a one-off Test against Tonga in which he scored a try and three Four Nations fixtures) in the halves.

A broken leg suffered in the opening round of 2010 sidelined Fien for five months, but he returned in time to score a try off the bench in the Dragons’ grand final triumph over Sydney Roosters. He dotted down in a Four Nations warm-up against Samoa and played all four Four Nations matches at halfback, backing up to finish the Kiwis’ spectacular long-range match-winner in the dying stages of an epic Suncorp Stadium final upset of the Kangaroos.

Lining up at hooker in the 2011 Anzac Test and the pre-Four Nations Test against Australia at Newcastle, Fien was utilised only once during the post-season tournament – albeit a tryscoring effort as an interchange against Wales. The veteran played just once more for New Zealand, coming off the pine in the 2012 Anzac Test loss at Eden Park.

The 34-year-old admirable 276-game NRL career wound up at the end of the 2013.