<big>Ankle injury forces Tuiaki to call it quits</big>
February 6, 2011
The Tank is out of action … Wests winger Taniela Tuiaki in 2009 before the ankle injury that would end his career. Photo: Getty Images
TANIELA TUIAKI’S rugby league career is officially over.
The Wests Tigers winger has retired from the NRL after failing to recover from a serious ankle injury.
Advertisement: Story continues below Tuiaki has undergone three operations in a desperate attempt to return to the field but the sickening injury he suffered against Parramatta in round 24 of the 2009 season has proven to be career-ending.
The New Zealand international was at the peak of his powers at the time - he scored 21 tries in 22 games, was named the Dally M winger of the year and lived up to his nickname of ‘‘The Tank’’ by being voted by his peers as the most difficult man to tackle in the NRL.
After missing the 2010 season, Tuiaki had hoped to make his comeback this year. However, he realised last week that the end had come.
‘‘It’s a real disappointment,’’ Tuiaki told The Sun-Herald. ‘‘Last week I was training and running but there was no improvement in the ankle, it wasn’t getting better. My leg hasn’t got the range back and the calf is really weak. I don’t know what else I could have done but it wasn’t recovering. I can’t keep running, even after all these surgeries - it’s not getting better.’’
Tuiaki spoke of his frustrations watching the Tigers get to within one win of the grand final in his absence. ‘‘It was very stressful not getting on the park last year and watching the boys play every week,’’ he said.
‘‘I couldn’t sit in my chair properly, I was always jumping up. I wish I was out there helping the boys. I was looking forward to playing last year with Lote [Tuqiri] coming in to join us. Having him on the flank, to play alongside him, would have been good but it didn’t happen.’’
Tuiaki, who went from a lower grade club rugby player to a Kiwi and Tongan league representative in the space of three seasons, rated his 2009 season as a career highlight. ‘‘I was scoring tries every week and was right up there for the leading try-scorer. I just missed out because of my injury,’’ he said.
''I was Dally M winger of the year. I missed out on the Kiwi Four Nations in 2008 because of injury.
''It was probably my best season to end my career.
‘‘I’ve now got to think about what I’m going to do away from footy.’’
The Tigers have worked closely with Tuiaki to prepare him for life after football. The club has set up work with a longstanding sponsor, courier and express freight firm Allied Express. He will remain involved with the club off the field.
‘‘It’s a shame that a cruel injury has cut him down in the prime of his career,’’ said Tigers chief executive Stephen Humphreys. ‘‘He is a very popular member of the club and and we’re really feeling for him.’’
The 28-year-old thanked the Tigers for all his support and left the door ajar to a possible comeback.
‘‘The club has been really excellent, helping me out with everything,’’ he said. ''The coach, players, all the team know what I’ve been going through. I don’t know how to thank them.
‘‘The leg needs a rest for 12 months and maybe there will be some miracle and it will be better.’’
Nickname: TNT, The Tank
Height: 183 cm
Rep: 4 Tests for New Zealand 2007, 2 Tests for Tonga in 2006
NRL Debut: v Warriors, 2006
NRL Career: 78 games, 42 tries, 168 pts.
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Im shattered one of my favs….
poor bugger, such a shame!
Writing was on the wall for some time now I guess. Still hard to accept the fact. Players of his calibre dont come along too often… and he was only just getting into his prime before being struck down.
Very sad news even though it was expected,he was without a doubt the 2nd best winger i have seen play for the Tigers (Larry Corowa was the best).I am sure the club will be doing the right thing by him he will be certainly missed
Hopefully a miracle occurs and he makes a comeback next year. Good to see the club helping him out.
Great player and a big loss.
Sad sad news
Poor guy, all the best Bob.
Demps last edited by
Ehhh, such a shame. Heart breaking, would’ve loved to see Lote & Tui on the wings @ the same time.
Dude was a beast & I was rly hoping for him to make a comeback this season, will be missed.
That being said, it’s great to see the club looking after him.
Wish him the best for the future & hopefully we can see him make a successful return someday.
Viva La Tui !
Cultured_Bogan last edited by
Devastating news. We all knew it would be a real possibility, but it’s no less disappointing.
I hope they monitor him in the slim hope that he may be able to return.
PS: I hate Parramatta!
Saw the big fella last Friday and the writing was on the wall then as he was walking with a noticeable limp. There’s just no strength or flexibility in the ankle. Maybe some improvement can occur over the next 12 months but it’s good that the Tigers are trying to look after Tuiaki with a career off the field.
Such a shame he was struck out of the game before reaching his full potential.
Tigerdave last edited by
Awful news, would have loved to have seen him and Lote out there together….the game is very cruel at times.
I’m shattered for the big fella. Very disappointing for him, the club and the fans.
system last edited by
Well done to WT for what they have put in life to make his transition into life after football.
I have fond memories from back in the Balmain 12 jersey right through to what we all remember he did in his games on the wing for us.
I think we all knew this was coming with the complications he has had etc but hope to see him around the club if he can for as long as possible
This is very disappointing for the man himself, the club and supporters. I wish him all the best in his life ahead and hope things work out well for him.