A lifeline from Sydney Roosters in 2017 sparked a career renaissance for rugged front-rower Zane Tetavano that ultimately garnered a Kiwis Test debut a week before his 29th birthday.
The Tokoroa product and New Zealand age-group rep joined Newcastle in 2008, playing 59 under-20s games across three seasons and representing Cook Islands at the Pacific Cup. Tetavano earned his NRL spurs as a 20-year-old in 2011, played for Cook Islands at the 2013 World Cup and had racked up 29 NRL appearances for the Knights before being cut adrift by the club for disciplinary reasons midway through 2014.
Tetavano spent the next two and a half seasons with NSW Cup outfit Wyong Roos, receiving an offer from the heavyweight Roosters after being named in the competition’s Team of the Year in 2016. He became a permanent part of the Tricolours’ front-row rotation in 2017 and played every game the following season, but a bicep injury suffered in the club’s 2018 grand final defeat of Melbourne ruled him out of Kiwis contention.
The enforcer was again a permanent fixture for the Roosters’ throughout 2019, but Tetavano was the unlucky player to make way for co-captain Jake Friend’s return from injury in the grand final as they became the first back-to-back premiers in 26 years.
Tetavano tempered that disappointment by being named in New Zealand’s Test squad and coming into Kiwis’ World Cup Nines side as a late replacement for the injured James Fisher-Harris. He contributed 26 tackles and 62 metres off the bench on debut in the Kiwis’ loss to the Kangaroos in Wollongong, before being elevated to the starting side for both Tests against Great Britain and contributing solidly in the 2-0 series win.
The off-contract journeyman signed with Penrith for three seasons and helped provide the backbone as the club surged to an unexpected minor premiership in 2020, before featuring in the Panthers side that went down to the Storm in the grand final. Tetavano also represented Māori All Stars during the 2020 pre-season.