Born: 3 December, 1994 – Neiafu, Tonga
Test record: 5 Tests (2016) – 1 try (4 points)
Tours: 2016 Four Nations
Blockbusting Warriors centre Solomone Kata represented the Kiwis in 2016 before featuring in the international rugby league awakening of his native Tonga.
Born in Neiafu, Tonga, Kata came to New Zealand on a rugby union scholarship with Sacred Heart College in 2011. He was lured to the Warriors two years later and played in back-to-back NYC Under-20s grand finals for the club – scoring three tries and winning the Jack Gibson Medal as player of the match in the 2014 victory over Brisbane Broncos.
The 20-year-old was fast-tracked into the Warriors’ NRL line-up and finished as their top tryscorer in 2015 (12 tries) and 2016 (15 tries). At the end of the latter season, Kata was chosen for the Kiwis’ end-of-season program and appeared in all five Tests at centre, debuting in a pre-tournament clash with Australia in Perth and lining up in all four Four Nations fixtures in England. He scored a try in the narrow round-robin loss to the Kangaroos at Coventry.
Kata first represented Tonga against Papua New Guinea in late-2014 and turned out in consecutive Representative Round clashes for the island nation in 2015-16 (against Samoa and Cook Islands, respectively) before declaring his allegiance for Mate Ma’a Tonga for the 2017 World Cup. His only match at the watershed tournament was in their pool win over Samoa, but he scored tries in Test losses to Australia in 2018 and New Zealand in 2019.
The nuggetty powerhouse scored 12 tries as the Warriors made a long-awaited return to the NRL finals in 2018 but fell out of favour the following season and gained a midyear release to Melbourne Storm, though he was not called upon to play first grade at the heavyweight club.
With a record of 46 tries in 93 NRL games to his credit, Kata returned to rugby union with Super Rugby outfit the Brumbies in 2020 and became a Tongan dual international in 2021. He played for Moana Pasifika in the 2022 Super Rugby Pacific campaign before signing with English club Exeter Chiefs.