Rugby League Farewells Legendary Olsen Filipaina
Pioneering Kaikohe-born rugby league great Olsen Filipaina has died at the age of 64. Filipaina was a trailblazer, George Clarke writes in a story published online at Australia’s 7News, becoming one of the first Polynesian players to play in the NSWRL where he enjoyed stints with North Sydney, Balmain and Easts.
He was famously plucked from reserve grade in 1985 to play for New Zealand where he led the Kiwis to a historic win over a Wally Lewis-captained Australia.
Filipaina left his native Auckland in 1980 to join Balmain following the abolition of international transfer fees.
He worked a day job away from the football field as a binman for Ryde Council. That, coupled with his heavy hits and rampaging runs, meant he was given the nickname of ‘the Galloping Garbo’, Clarke writes.
He would later represent his father’s country of birth, Western Samoa, in their inaugural Test match in 1988.
He scored 108 points in 29 Tests for the Kiwis from 1977-86 and was named a NZRL Legend of League in 2007.
In a statement, the NZRL said: “New Zealand Rugby League extends its deepest sympathies to Olsen’s family, friends and legion of fans as they farewell a truly extraordinary individual.”
Original article by George Clarke, AAP, 7News, February 10, 2022.