Born: 3 July, 1981 – Auckland
Test record: 1 Test (2004) – 0 points
Robust and creative hooker Tevita Latu was a Kiwis bolter in 2004 early in his NRL career with the Warriors.
An impressive Richmond Rovers junior, Latu’s fine season for Marist-Richmond in the 2002 Bartercard Cup resulted in a place on New Zealand A’s tour to the United States and France. He broke into the Warriors’ first-grade side in the second half of 2003, playing seven games at lock, hooker and off the bench, but he was left out of the club’s squad during the finals.
After just 12 NRL appearances earned Latu a surprise Test jersey in 2004, coming off the bench for the Kiwis in the early-season clash with Australia. The 22-year-old came off the bench in a 37-10 defeat at Newcastle.
But Latu’s form tapered off and he spent the following 18 months as an intermittent member of the Warriors’ side. Cronulla threw Latu a lifeline for 2006 and he responded by cementing a spot on the bench. His lively work around the ruck and strong charges out of dummy-half were a handy addition for the Sharks, but an assault charge saw his contract torn up after just 10 outings for the club.
Latu was picked up by Super League club Wakefield Trinity and proved a handy acquisition as a hooker/back-rower, staying with the club for five seasons. He debuted for Tonga in a pre-World Cup match against New Zealand and featured in three matches for the Pacific nation at the 2008 tournament.
The rugby league nomad later had stints with Queensland Cup outfit Central Queensland Comets, Point Chevalier Pirates in the Auckland Rugby League competition and Auckland Vulcans in the NSW Cup. Latu remained a forceful presence on the New Zealand domestic scene, representing Akarana Falcons in the National Competition and earning selection for New Zealand Residents in 2016.