Olsen Filipaina

Tributes pour in after passing of New Zealand Kiwis, Balmain Tigers, North Sydney Bears, Sydney Roosters great Olsen Filipaina – NRL



Kiwi-Samoan, Olsen Filipaina was a pioneer for Maori and Pasifika players, crossing the ditch to blaze a professional career in top Club rugby league in Australia in the early 1970s, before the NRL. Following his passing, tributes have poured in for the man affectionately known as The Big O.

Tributes have poured in from around the rugby league world after the passing of Kiwi legend Olsen Filipaina – the man regarded as a pioneer for Maori and Pasifika players in the game.

Filipaina, who played for Balmain, Eastern Suburbs and North Sydney, was a revered figure in the game and had been invited to Saturday night’s match between the Indigenous and Maori All Stars at CommBank Stadium before being admitted to Westmead Hospital last month with a stomach infection.

Members of the Maori squad had signed a jersey for him on Wednesday night.

Filipaina, 64, suffered kidney failure and was placed in intensive care before passing away on Thursday, surrounded by family.

“To all our family and friends, it is with a heavy heart, that I inform you that Olsen passed away peacefully in hospital this afternoon,” Filipaina’s brother, Alf, said in a statement.

“He was a fighter and fought for 16 days in ICU but our heavenly father needed a stand-off for his rugby league team, and now he has the best.

“His family spoke to him every day to keep his spirits up and he is now reunited with mum, dad, younger brother Rae, and all our tupuna who are now looking after him with all their love.”

The Maori All Stars team will honour Filipaina in Saturday night’s match, while the IRL, NZRL, Balmain Tigers, North Sydney Bears all paid tribute to ‘The Big O’.


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