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Proud . . . Carol Dale with a photograph of Timaru Boys' High School players with Siua Maile, second from left. PHOTO: CHRIS TOBIN

by Chris Tobin

Tonga might have been hammered 92-7 by the All Blacks in Hamilton on Saturday but the result did not detract from the match being a special occasion for newly capped Tongan hooker Siua Maile (22) and for a group of people in Timaru.

Maile lived in Timaru for two years and played for the Timaru Boys’ High School first XV in 2013 and 2014.

In his first year in Timaru, Maile lived with prominent golfer and now professional at the Gleniti club, Peter Hayes, and his wife, Margaret.

“Margaret was on the school committee and our son, Cameron, was in the first XV, so we put our hand up,” Mr Hayes said. Maile came to stay, accompanied by another Tongan boy, Tiamo Kiutau.

My ball . . . Tongan hooker Siua Maile goes to ground with the ball ahead of All Black midfielder Ryan Crotty during the test in Hamilton on Saturday. PHOTO: NZ HERALD

“They were pretty raw at first, sleeping on the floor, but they were great boys. Both had a lot of talent and it was a great experience for our family.

“Siua was very quiet and shy and they were very Christian boys. We’re rapt that he’s made that level.”

After his first year, he went to stay with Carol and Neale Dale.

Timaru sports official Don Garland says Siua Maile has followed several other former Timaru Boys’ First XV players from the Pacific Islands to play top-level rugby.

“Nathan Robinson and Amosa Anglem have both played test rugby for the Cook Islands, with Robinson also playing test rugby league for the Cook Islands.”

Robinson also represented the Cook Islands in sevens at the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne.

“Tevita Vaikona, who was a member of the 1991 Timaru Boys’ High School First XV with Scotland international Brendan Laney, represented Tonga in sevens at the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester, as well as at the 1995 and 2000 Rugby League World Cups.

“Just of interest as well, Tevita Eukaliti, Melvin Pauni and Maka Mafileo represented the Tongan under-20 side in 2018, with Eukaliti and Mauni representing Canterbury under-20 and Mafileo Canterbury under-19 with Cullen Grace, captain, Fin Joyce and Thomas Edwards.

“Tevita Vaikona also represented the Junior Kiwis Rugby League side in 1994 against Australia in two tests.”

Standing tall . . . Carol Dale is somewhat shorter than one of her “boys,’ Patelesio Latu (16). PHOTO:CHRIS TOBIN

“When he first went to Christchurch he was down every other weekend. He got married this year and now has a son.

“I was talking to him the other day and he’s stoked about getting selected,” Mrs Dale said.

The Dales were delighted with his success.

“It’s like one of your own kids getting it.”

Maile plays for the Shirley premier club team and unlike the fulltime professional All Blacks, he fits rugby around a job, working as a roofer in Christchurch.

His dramatic call-up, being plucked from club rugby to test status, came after two other Tongan hookers were injured.

Maile started as a wing with the Timaru Boys’ First XV, then became an openside flanker and was named the school’s First XV player of the year in 2014.

After his shift to Christchurch he made Canterbury under-age teams, still as a blindside flanker, but changed to the hooker position recently.

The Dales have been providing a second home for the rugby scholarship boys since 2011, starting with Felila Taukei’aho who is now back in Tonga and about to marry an American girl.

“They want to go as far as they can with the game.”

Taukei’aho’s brother Samisoni Taukei’aho is a hooker for the Chiefs.

“Our son Graison was in the first XV when Felila came; they became like brothers,” Mrs Dale said.

“It can be hard for them because it is a totally different culture coming here. It takes them about six weeks until they settle down.

“They’re very respectful and grateful for whatever you give them.”

Flanker . . . Siua Maile following one of his matches for the TBHS first XV as a openside flanker. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

She found the boys were ambitious to fulfil their rugby dreams, with the rugby scholarships being “their ticket to leave Tonga”.

“They want to go as far as they can with the game.”

Patelesio Latu (16) is living with the Dales at present. He has one more year at Timaru Boys’ High School and has set his sights high: “I want to go for the Crusaders.”

Those who have followed Felila Taukei’aho to the Dales’ home, besides Maile and Latu, are Makatapu Tangitau, Tevita Eukaliti, Maka Mafileo (all Tonga), John Vasurakuta (Fiji), Shane Jansen (South Africa), Talau and Amato Fakatava (Tonga).

Timaru Boys’ High School does not actively recruit rugby players from the Pacific Islands.

The school’s teacher in charge of rugby, Edward Patterson, said some schools were extremely structured but Timaru was not that organised.

Contacts and word of mouth had brought players to the school from the Pacific Islands since 2006, usually one or two players a year.

“We try to give them a good experience and Carol Dale does a tremendous job. She’s like a mother to them in New Zealand.”