Born: 13 May, 1954 – Vaivase, Western Samoa
Died: December 2022 – Auckland
Test record: 0 Tests
Tours: 1978 tour of Australia and Papua New Guinea
Gasetoa Fepuleai – known as Gus or Toa – represented New Zealand on the 1978 tour of Australia and Papua New Guinea. Though he was unable to force his way into the Test team, the centre/winger enjoyed a fruitful trip with four tries in eight minor tour matches.
Born in Western Samoa, Fepuleai attended Seddon High School (now Western Springs College) and made an immediate impact on the Auckland Rugby League scene with Richmond Rovers, taking out the 1976 Tetley Trophy as the competition’s top tryscorer. He broke into the Auckland team in 1978 before earning Kiwis selection and played at provincial level until 1982.
Fepuleai’s tour of Australia and Papua New Guinea in ’78 was bookended by ankle injuries, but he debuted against Illawarra, scored two tries in a big win over North Coast, and dotted down in subsequent victories over Brisbane Colts and Central Queensland.
Further Kiwis call-ups eluded Felupeai but he twice turned out against the 1979 Great Britain Lions, for Auckland and New Zealand Māori.
Felupeai helped Richmond to its drought-breaking 1979-80 Fox Memorial triumphs. Finishing his club career with stints at Glenora and Manukau, he later was a long-serving Rovers chairman and was a much-admired servant of the club. Universally regarded as one of rugby league’s gentlemen, he passed away in late-2022.