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Thumbs up for Tufugas

CHRIS COGDALE
chris.cogdale@age.co.nz

Four brothers are set to make Wairarapa-Bush rugby history when they take the field in Saturday’s opening Heartland Championship match.

The Tufuga brothers – Sam, Max, Kirk, and Ueta – have been named in the Farriers Wairarapa-Bush starting XV to take on competition favourites Whanganui at Memorial Park.

Sam and Max will prop the scrum, Kirk will pack down at No 8, and Ueta will add the punch from second-five.

Although not a first-class record, four brothers on the field at the same time in the modern era is a rarity.

Five Clarke brothers played for Waikato against Thames Valley in 1961. Doug, left, Brian, Graeme, Ian and Don. PHOTO/NZ RUGBY MUSEUM

The Clarke brothers from Waikato hold the record with five.

All Black great, Don, was joined by fellow All Black Ian, and brothers Brian, Graeme, and Doug in the Waikato side who beat Thames Valley 11-8 at Te Aroha on August 12, 1961.

The four Whitelock brothers – Sam, Luke, George, and Adam were part of the 2012 Crusaders’ Super Rugby squad. All four were on the field at the same time, along with cousin Ben Funnell, in the warm-up game against the Hurricanes at Mangatainoka, although that was not a first-class game.

There have been two instances of three brothers playing for Wairarapa-Bush in the same season since amalgamation in 1971 but no records of four brothers.

The McFadzean brothers – Corey, Lachie, and John – played together in the 2015 Heartland campaign and Marty, Paddy, and Chris Berry were all members of the 1986 NPC first division team.

Although all four brothers are now based in Palmerston North, the Tufuga boys are no strangers to the Wairarapa rugby scene.

Sam was in the 2014 New Zealand Barbarians school team and won the Wairarapa Secondary Schools Sports Personality of the Year. He was also in the Samoan side which won the Junior World Trophy in Zimbabwe in 2016.

Max and Kirk played for Wairarapa-Bush in the 2018 Heartland Championship. Ueta is a hard-running midfield back, who played for the Varsity club in the Manawatu premier competition.

Sam and Ueta will make their first-class debuts.

Other features of Saturday’s team are the naming of captain James Goodger at lock and big Fijian Joe Tako at blindside flanker.

Goodger played much of the three warm-up games at blindside flanker but is well-accustomed to the locking role.

Tako has been in imperious form at No 8 in the build-up and his powerful running and defence could not be ignored.

Former Wairarapa College student Bruce Kauika-Petersen [hooker], Gladstone winger Logan Prendeville-Hebenton, and substitute halfback Bryan Arnold are others set make their
first-class debuts.

Wai-Bush team

Inia Katia, Logan Prendeville-Hebenton, Robbie Anderson [vice-captain], Ueta Tufuga, Tristan Flutey, Tipene Haira, Daryl Pickering, Kirk Tufuga, Johan van Vliet, Joseva Tako, Lachie McFadzean, James Goodger [captain], Sam Tufuga, Bruce Kauika-Petersen, Max Tufuga.

Reserves: Elijah-James Pakoti, Sam Gammie, Andrew Smith, Sam Shaw, Bryan Arnold, Tim Priest, Brock Price.

Kick-off 2.30pm Saturday, Memorial Park.

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