Quentin Pongia, Kiwi Hardman (1970-2019)
Kiwi rugby league legend Quentin Pongia died on May 18, 2019 aged 48, in Greymouth. “Q” represented the Kiwis 35 times and played for the Raiders, Warriors, Roosters and Dragons in Australia between 1993 and 2003, before spending two seasons in the Super League with Wigan. He was diagnosed with bowel cancer.
Reporting for the Canberra Times, sports journalist Caden Helmers memorialized that “Mention Quentin Pongia’s name to those who laced up the boots beside him and one word invariably comes to mind: tough.”
He was a member of Canberra’s premiership-winning team in 1994 and following his playing career had coaching roles with the Raiders and Sea Eagles.
Helmers writes that “the former Green Machine front-rower via the west coast of New Zealand had hands like dinner plates and a physique to match… He could bring crowds to their feet with one bone-crunching tackle, with one barnstorming run. But above all else, “Q” was simply a good man.”
New Zealand Rugby League’s website recorded that “Originally from the West Coast, Pongia moved to Canterbury at 18 in 1988. He crossed the Tasman in 1993 to play for Canberra, winning a premiership with them the following year. He remained with the club through to the end of 1997 before joining the Warriors in 1998, followed by the Roosters, Dragons and Wigan.
“The relentless prop played 137 NRL games in his 13-year career, in which he gained a reputation as one of the game’s most feared players. On top of this, he also leaves behind a legacy carved by his black and white jersey.
“Quentin represented the Kiwis 35 times between 1992 and 2000. He played a monumental role in New Zealand’s back-to-back victories over the Kangaroos at North Harbour Stadium in the 1990s, he then went on to captain the 1998 touring team that remains the only Kiwis side unbeaten from a three-test series in England, also earning himself New Zealand Rugby League player of the year.
“Pongia remained in the game when his playing days finished, having time on Canberra’s football staff and more recently he worked in the wellbeing area for the NRL, the Rugby League Players’ Association and lastly the Manly Sea Eagles. He was also on the Kiwis’ staff for the 2009 end of season Four Nations campaign in the United Kingdom and France.”
The Canberra Times reported former Australian and Canberra Raiders captain Mal Meninga saying that Pongia was a “warrior”, one that fought his battle against cancer as hard as he fought on the field to help the Raiders to their last premiership in 1994.
“Quentin is the toughest individual I have ever played with and I know how hard he fought to beat this terrible disease. He will be sorely missed right across the rugby league community.”
Original article by Caden Helmers, Canberra Times
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