Thursday, May 22, 2008
When you hear the name Va'aiga Tuigamala you think of one thing - raw power. The man who was the first of the big wingers, Tuigamala struck fear into his opponents with extraordinary physical presence and dazzling runs.
We forget that before Jonah Lomu came along, this other powerful force existed. In his early days he was capable of the impossible on the field, but after a few seasons things changed and he became the bash up guy in the center, which led to him bulking up even more to deal with the demands placed on him. Therefore, tries became more scarce sadly.
But in his prime, a modern day comparison would possibly be Alesana Tuilagi at his most potent, putting the head down and charging into opposition, bouncing them off with discontent. Or perhaps because of his height, he's quite similar even to a slim Rupeni Caucau. Whoever you'd like to compare him too, one thing is certain, and that is that back then players of this size, speed and ferocity just didn't exist.
Inga, as he was commonly known, had a career that had many different phases and are difficult to capture in these few paragraphs. Nevertheless, on form, as seen here when scoring this try against the Baa Baa's, he was unstoppable and struck fear into the opposition.
He was signed up by rugby league side Wigan during this tour in 1993, and New Zealand rugby never got to see more of that tremendous potential he had shown since 1989.
After a highly successful league career, he returned to rugby union in 1996 with Western Samoa, and then later played club rugby for Wasps and Newcastle in England.
He is a legend of the game, for his valuable contributions to so many facets of rugby life both on and off the field, and this rare clip is just a small example of the great man in action.
Extra: Did you follow Tuigamala's career closely, and perhaps have a favourite memory of him in action? Post it here or in the forum as we'd love to hear it.