Ruben Wiki’s extraordinary career garnered the most elite of achievements: a then-world record 55 Tests for the Kiwis, selection in the New Zealand Team of the Century, the first non-Australian to make 300 first-grade appearances in the Australian premiership and one of just three Kiwis to be inducted into the NRL Hall of Fame.


The Otahuhu junior’s role in 16 seasons at rugby league’s highest level can also be split into two halves, spending seven years as a blockbusting centre before gravitating to the forward pack and becoming recognised as one of the code’s most respected enforcers.


The 1992 Junior Kiwi represented Auckland and New Zealand Māori, joined Canberra Raiders in 1993 and starred in the club’s 1994 premiership triumph. Wiki scored 15 tries in 25 games and became just the third New Zealander (along with teammate Quentin Pongia) to win a Sydney grand final as the Raiders carved out an emphatic win over Canterbury Bulldogs.


A Kiwis call-up for the end-of-season tour to Papua New Guinea followed and Wiki was an automatic Test selection for the ensuing 12 seasons. The backline powerhouse was a key figure in New Zealand’s 1996 series cleansweep of Great Britain and momentous wins over Australia in 1998 and ’99.


“I first had him in the Junior Kiwis in 1992, when we beat the Junior Kangaroos for the first time in history – it showed me then what a good player and person Ruben was,” former coach Frank Endacott recalls.


“I had no hesitation in picking him in every Kiwis Test once I became coach. He was one of those special players, a lovely person, a tough competitor, and by geez the opposition always respected him.


“I moved him to lock against Great Britain (during a Test) at Bolton Stadium and they couldn’t handle him. He was so dependable and he’d never argue whatever position you put him in, he’d just play and do the job at the highest level.”


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Wiki’s hulking frame and ferocious style made his transition to the Raiders’ engine-room in 1999 and the Kiwis’ pack at the 2000 World Cup a smooth and permanent one. He made the first of 18 Test appearances as captain in 2003 – a leadership tenure that included New Zealand’s watershed 2005 Tri Nations success and a gallant farewell to the international scene as the Kiwis lost an epic golden point final to Australia in the 2006 tournament.


“When I was coaching we had a number of good candidates and he was spoken about among them,” Endacott adds.


“It was only a matter of time before he became Kiwi captain. He had the respect of the opposition and his own players – they looked up to him and they’d follow him to the end of the earth.”


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During the latter Tri Nations, the 33-year-old also became the first player to play 50 Tests for any nation. He was named at prop in the Kiwis’ Team of the Century in 2007 and, fittingly, skippered the All Golds against Northern Union in that year’s centenary match.


A two-time Raiders player of the year and bona fide club legend (he was inducted into their Hall of Fame in 2022), Wiki left the Australian capital after 225 games in the lime green to return home to Auckland and play for the Warriors. He was the Warriors’ player of the year in 2005 and played an instrumental, inspirational role as front-row cornerstone and spiritual leader as the club returned to the playoffs in 2007 and reached the preliminary final in 2008, the 35-year-old Wiki’s last NRL campaign.



“He’s arguably New Zealand’s greatest all-round player ever and would be hard to beat among any internationals, proving himself in the centres with his speed and strength, then shifting into the back-row and ending up as one of the best props in the world,” rugby league journalist, author and historian John Coffey asserts.


“I wouldn’t think there’s anybody else who has gone (from the backline) all the way to the front-row and been so dominant, whether it was on defence or attack.”


Wiki remained entrenched in rugby league post-playing through roles as NZRL’s high performance manager, on the Kiwis’ support staff and as the Warriors’ long-serving strength and conditioning coach. Made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit (ONZM) for his services to rugby league and awarded the Ken Stephen Medal, recognising his off-field community work, in 2007, Wiki became just the eighth Kiwis rep to be inducted to the New Zealand Sports Hall of Fame in 2017.


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Clubs: Otahuhu Leopards, Canberra Raiders, New Zealand Warriors

Provinces: Auckland


New Zealand Representative:


1994  2 Tests in Papua New Guinea

1995  2 Tests in Australia

1995  3 Tests at World Cup (England)

1996  2 Tests v Papua New Guinea

1996  3 Tests v Great Britain

1997  1 Tests in Australia

1998  3 Tests v Australia (home and away)

1998  3 Tests in Great Britain

1999  1 Test in Australia

1999  3 Tests in Tri Nations (NZ and Aus)

1999  1 Test v Tonga

2000  6 Tests at World Cup (England)

2001  1 Test v France

2001  1 Test v Australia

2002  1 Test v Australia

2002  1 Test in Wales

2002  2 Tests in Great Britain

2002  1 Test in France

2003  2 Tests v Australia (home and away)

2004  3 Tests in Tri Nations (NZ and GB)

2004  1 Test in France

2005  1 Test in Australia

2005  5 Tests in Tri Nations (NZ, Aus and GB)

2005  1 Test in France

2006  5 Tests in Tri Nations (NZ and Aus)


Total Test Appearances: 55 matches – 15 tries (60 points)

Total Matches Played: 58 matches – 17 tries (68 points)




Kiwis captain in 18 Tests (2003-06)

New Zealand Player of the Year (2003)

Ken Stephen Medal (2007)

New Zealand Team of the Century (2007)

All Golds captain v Northern Union (2007)

Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit (2007)

First New Zealand to play 300 NRL games (2008)

New Zealand Sports Hall of Fame (2017)

NRL Hall of Fame (2019)

Canberra Raiders Hall of Fame (2022)