Born: 24 April, 1969
Test record: 1 Test (1995) – 0 points
Tough, nuggetty forward Tony Tuimavave represented both New Zealand and Western Samoa in 1995 after shooting to prominence with the fledgling Auckland Warriors.
The Mount Albert tyro toured Britain with the 1987 Junior Kiwis and earned an Auckland debut the following season. He became a permanent fixture at lock for Auckland in 1990 – including the province’s win over Great Britain – and represented Kiwis Colts against the touring Lions.
Tuimavave, who later moved to Northcote, spent the 1991-92 off-season with Sheffield Eagles and skippered Western Samoa at the 1992 Pacific Cup.
Despite an injury-ravaged 1994 season with Waitakere City Raiders in the inaugural Lion Red Cup, ‘The Chief’ nailed down a starting spot in the star-studded Warriors’ pack for their ’95 premiership entry. He played all but one match at lock, second-row and prop as one of the newcomers’ most reliable performers.
The 26-year-old was called up by the Kiwis for the second Test against Australia in 1995 – coming off the bench in a 20-10 defeat in Sydney – but aligned with Western Samoa for the Centenary World Cup at the end of the year.
Tuimavave made just 21 top-grade appearances for the Warriors over the next three seasons but enjoyed a renaissance under incoming coach Mark Graham in 1999-2000, playing 36 NRL games. The last survivor from the Warriors’ inaugural line-up to leave the club, the respected enforcer continued to play at domestically.
Tuimavave’s older brother, Paddy, played two Tests for New Zealand in 1990, while nephews Evarn Tuimavave and Antonio Winterstein went on to become Kiwis.