Timana Tahu

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Timana Tahu
Tahu while playing for the Knights in 2012.
Personal information
Born (1980-10-16) 16 October 1980 (age 35)
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Playing information
Height 185 cm (6 ft 1 in)
Weight 98 kg (15 st 6 lb)[1]
Rugby league
Position centre, wing, second-row
Years Team Pld T G FG P
1999–04 Newcastle Knights 97 82 2 0 332
2005–07 Parramatta Eels 46 20 0 0 80
2010 Parramatta Eels 17 5 0 0 20
2011 Penrith Panthers 7 3 0 0 12
2012–14 Newcastle Knights 29 11 0 0 44
Total 196 121 2 0 488
Years Team Pld T G FG P
2001–10 Country Origin 4 3 0 0 12
2002–10 New South Wales 12 8 0 0 32
2002–06 Australia 5 5 0 0 20
2010 New Zealand Māori 1 0 0 0 0
2013 Indigenous All Stars 1 0 0 0 0
Rugby union
Position Centre
Years Team Pld T G FG P
2008–09 NSW Waratahs 20 3 0 0 15
Years Team Pld T G FG P
2008–09 Australia 4 0 0 0 0
2008 Australia A 5 4 0 0 20
Source: Rugby League Project

Timana James Aporo Tahu (born 16 October 1980 in Melbourne, Victoria) is an Australian retired professional rugby league and rugby union footballer. A dual-code international representative three-quarter back for Australia's Kangaroos and then Wallabies, he could also play second-row and played for New South Wales in State of Origin. Tahu started his career in the National Rugby League for the Newcastle Knights, with whom he won the 2001 NRL Premiership before moving to the Parramatta Eels. He then played for the New South Wales Waratahs in the Super Rugby competition. Tahu returned to the NRL with the Eels and then the Penrith Panthers before finishing his playing career where it started with the Newcastle Knights.


Tahu was born in Melbourne of a New Zealand Māori father and an Australian Aboriginal mother,[2] as a result he was eligible for both the New Zealand Kiwis and Australian Kangaroos.[3] He grew up in St Kilda before moving with his mother to Bourke in western New South Wales at the age of 12. From there he went on to live in towns including Wilcannia, Grafton and Byron Bay.[4]

Tahu and his partner Kasey have three children. They met while young; their oldest child was born when he was 18.[4]

Rugby league career[edit]

Newcastle Knights (1999–2004)[edit]

A Central Charlestown junior, Tahu debuted for the Knights in 1999 at the age of 18, playing on the wing. He only played 3 games that season, but managed to score a try in his second game. The following season was highly successful for the young winger, as he topped the knights try scorer list with 20 tries. In 2001, he continued this success, again becoming the club's top try-scorer for the season scoring 18 tries. He played in his first representative game playing for Country New South Wales in their 42–10 thrashing of City Origin, playing in the centres. He played on the wing in the Knights side that won the 2001 NRL Grand Final against the Parramatta Eels 30–24, scoring the winning try.

2002 saw continued success for the young winger. He scored 21 tries in 21 games to become the club's top try scorer for the season for the third consecutive year. He scored his first ever hat-trick in his side's Round 8 win over the Melbourne Storm. For his consistent efforts for his club and his prolific try scoring abilities, he earned a place on the wing for the Country Origin side, scoring two tries in their loss to City. This impressive display earned him a place in the NSW side to compete in the State of Origin series. He played in all three matches, managing to score a try in the second game (the series went on to become a tie as a result of the 18–18 scoreline of the decider). He followed up this success with two caps for the Australian Kangaroos National side later in the year, scoring a try in each match.

The 2003 season saw Tahu continue his success as a prolific tryscorer. However, his season was shortened significantly due to recurring injuries. Despite this, he still managed to score 14 tries in the 14 games that he did play. During this season he surpassed teammate Robbie O'Davis' record as the all-time Knights top tryscorer (having played half as many games as the former record holder). He scored a hat-trick in Round 19 in his side's loss to the Penrith Panthers (he was the only player from the Knights to score any tries in the game). He followed this up with another hat-trick in Round 25. He also represented Country Origin (scoring a try in the match) and also NSW again in the State of Origin series, playing in all three matches and scoring 3 tries. Injury kept him from representing the national side again in the post-season.

2004 became an unhappy season for the Knights winger. Injury prevented him from playing all but 8 games throughout the season. He did however, manage to score 8 tries in these few games, including a double in Round 16. He represented Australia in the Anzac Test match in which the Kangaroos won 37–10, with Tahu scoring a try. He was also selected in the second State of Origin match in which he scored two tries.

Tahu left the Newcastle Knights as their all-time highest tryscorer, having scored 82 tries in the 97 games that he had played for them (still only at the age of 23). However, this record was later broken by Adam MacDougall in 2010.

Parramatta Eels (2005-07)[edit]

Tahu in 2005

In 2004, Tahu announced that he had signed a 3-year contract to join the Eels. The contract was worth $400,000 a season that made him one of the highest profile transfers for that year.[citation needed]

The 2005 season saw Tahu join the Eels backline in his new position of centre. After initially struggling in this unfamiliar role, he went on to score 10 tries for the season, including a hat-trick in his side's 56–4 win over the Bulldogs. For his efforts he was awarded with the joint Eels Player of the Year Award along with captain Nathan Cayless. Injury again shortened his season and he was restricted to only playing 16 games. He did however, make yet another appearance for the NSW side in the final match, scoring yet another try. Tahu was selected in the post-season test match squad but was restricted by injury to playing in only one game.

Tahu was once again injured early on in the 2006 season and missed a few rounds. But he returned strongly by scoring a double in his Round 5 match against the Penrith Panthers. He participated in the Anzac Test for Australia scoring a double in their 50–12 win over New Zealand. However, yet again he was in and out of injury. He represented NSW for all 3 of the State of Origin matches. His season was ended prematurely when he injured his knee in the third match for his state.

Tahu started the 2007 season slowly. Despite scoring a try in Round 2, he suffered yet another leg injury mid-season that kept him out of 9 games. He continued from this by scoring a further 5 tries for the season, including a double in the Eels record 68–22 win over the Brisbane Broncos in Round 25 in which Tahu scored his 100th career try.

On 20 March 2007, Tahu announced he would be switching codes to join the New South Wales Waratahs in Super Rugby from the 2008 season. Tahu's contract with Parramatta ended at the end of the 2007 NRL season after three seasons in the Eels. The contract with the Waratahs was expected to be a four-year deal.[5]

Rugby union career[edit]

Waratahs (2008-09)[edit]

In 2007, Tahu shocked the NRL when he announced that he had decided to make a move to rugby union. His contract with the Eels was set to expire at the end of the year, thus the NSW Waratahs attempted to sign him. He signed to a four-year contract worth $500,000 a year, which also included support from the Australian Rugby Union.[citation needed]

On 19 December 2007, Tahu agreed to a four-year contract with Shute Shield club, West Harbour. He joined fellow League convert Lote Tuqiri at the club.

In Tahu's final game in the NRL, he was put on report for a head slam on Melbourne Storm player Israel Folau.[6] He received a two-match suspension, and although his rugby league career was over this suspension still carried across into rugby union.[7] Instead of missing Super 14 matches, Waratahs coach Ewan McKenzie attempted to look for alternatives where Tahu could serve his suspension.[citation needed]

On 26 January 2008, Tahu played his first game of rugby union. The game was a trial match between the NSW Waratahs and the Queensland Reds, which the Waratahs won 26–10. Tahu starred by scoring a try from only his second touch of the ball.[citation needed]

Tahu made his debut performance in the Super 14 competition in the Waratahs clash with the Wellington Hurricanes on 16 February 2008. Tahu impressed by setting up two tries for Lachlan Turner. Tahu suffered yet another hamstring injury during 2008. He was ruled out of the Waratahs clash with the Crusaders, but the injury was later declared a 6-week recovery period.

Tahu made his long-awaited return from injury in the Waratahs Round 13 match against the Stormers, coming off the bench. He finally got the chance to play at outside centre, a position he has declared that he wants to cement himself into.[citation needed] He had been declared available two weeks prior to returning, missing the first week due to coach Ewan McKenzie not wishing to rush him back unnecessarily, and failed to make the side at all in the following game. He did however return to the side towards the end of the season and participated in the Waratahs grand final loss to the Crusaders.

Tahu began the 2009 Super 14 season playing in the position of inside centre. However, unlike his success in this position for Australia A, he failed to have the same impact for the Waratahs. Despite scoring tries in rounds 2 and 4, Tahu played a lot of his games off the bench during this period, coming in at wing or outside centre.

Wallabies and Australia A[edit]

During the 2008 Pacific Nations Cup, Tahu repeatedly performed for Australia A, playing at both wing and inside centre. His performance against Tonga at North Sydney Oval, in front of new Wallabies coach Robbie Deans, in which he played at inside centre, caused him to declare that inside centre is his preferred position.[8] Here he scored a try and made six assists, tearing the opposition defence apart. He also scored the winning try against the Samoans, with a long distance intercept effort. On 6 July Tahu played a pivotal role in the Australian A's final Pacific Nations Cup game against New Zealand Maori, scoring 2 tries.

On 7 July 2008, Tahu was named in the 30 man Wallabies squad for the Tri-Nations series.[9]

On 26 July, Tahu made his first appearance as a substitute for the Wallabies against New Zealand in the Tri-Nations. Despite only coming on towards the end of the game, Tahu effectively made himself Australia's 46th Dual-International. He also succeeded in earning a further cap against South Africa, however injury cut his tour short.

Return to rugby league (2010-2014)[edit]

On 22 July 2009 it was announced that Tahu would return to league and would rejoin his former club, Parramatta Eels on a three-year contract in 2010. He ended his career with league when in 2007, he signed a nearly $2 million, four-year contract with the ARU and NSW Waratahs.[10]

In 2010 Tahu earned a recall to the New South Wales State of Origin team and was involved in a race-related incident with Andrew Johns. In New South Wales Blues training, Johns reportedly called Greg Inglis "a black cunt".[11] Tahu withdrew in protest from the New South Wales Origin team.[12][13] On 12 June 2010 Tahu walked out of the New South Wales State of Origin camp because of an alleged racial slur made by assistant coach Andrew Johns. It is believed Johns made the racial slur at a team bonding session. Johns was reported as telling centre Beau Scott he needed to stop Greg Inglis, and made a racial reference to the Maroons Aboriginal star. Tahu's mother is Aboriginal.[14]

Tahu ended his season by playing for the New Zealand Māori against England.[15]

After the tumultuous 2010 season, Tahu requested an extended break from the Eels pre-season training, hoping to return in January 2011. New coach Stephen Kearney denied the request and Tahu was released from his contract.[16] After a period where it seemed possible Tahu would not return to the NRL,[17] Tahu was signed by the Penrith Panthers.[18] Tahu played just 7 games for the Panthers in 2011 before a torn pectoral muscle ended his season. Only a week later it was announced Tahu would be returning to his original club, the Newcastle Knights on a 2-year contract starting from 2012.[19]

On 6 September 2013, Tahu re-signed with the Knights on a 1-year contract.[20]

Tahu's last game was in Round 26 of the 2014 NRL season, where he came off the bench into the centres for an injured Joseph Leilua. He scored two tries.[21]


  • Scored the most tries in a season for Newcastle Knights for 3 consecutive years: scoring 20 tries in 26 games (2000), 18 in 25 games (2001), 21 in 21 games (2002)
  • Broke the record for most tries for the Newcastle Knights with 82 tries in 97 games.[citation needed]
  • Became the 46th Dual International as of 2008.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Tahu's NRL Player Profile
  2. ^ Smith, Wayne (25 July 2008). "Maori war cry stirs Tahu's blood". The Australian. 
  3. ^ Coffey and Wood The Kiwis: 100 Years of International Rugby League ISBN 1-86971-090-8
  4. ^ a b "Tahu comes in from the cold and turns out for the Blues". The Sydney Morning Herald. 24 May 2006. Retrieved 22 November 2011. 
  5. ^ Timana prepares to be 'bored'
  6. ^ http://www.nzwarriors.co.nz/news.php?newsid=14840
  7. ^ http://www.leaguehq.com.au/news/news/smith-free-to-play-in-grand-final/2007/09/24/1190486188104.html
  8. ^ Geddes, Jon (23 June 2008). "Dazzling Timana Tahu eases Wallabies' centre puzzle". The Daily Telegraph. 
  9. ^ http://www.rugby.com.au/news/wallabies_2008/tri-nations_squad_announced,95528.html/section/21893
  10. ^ Timana Tahu returning to NRL with Parramatta
  11. ^ "Race row deepens around Johns". ABC News. 16 June 2010. Retrieved 22 November 2011. 
  12. ^ http://wwos.ninemsn.com.au/article.aspx?id=1068961
  13. ^ http://wwos.ninemsn.com.au/article.aspx?id=1068899
  14. ^ Pace, Daniel. "Tahu Quits Blues over Johns Remark". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 12 June 2010. 
  15. ^ "League: Maori draw with England". The New Zealand Herald. 16 October 2010. Retrieved 22 November 2011. 
  16. ^ Danny Weidler (5 December 2011). "Tahu and Eels are about to split". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 19 May 2011. 
  17. ^ Barry Toohey (13 February 2011). "Newcastle Knights and Cronulla Sharks end Timana Tahu's hopes of reviving his NRL careers". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 19 May 2011. 
  18. ^ Dean Ritchie (16 March 2011). "Timana Tahu signs one-year deal with Penrith Panthers". Daily Telegraph (Sydney). Retrieved 19 May 2011. 
  19. ^ "Tahu heading back to Knights". One. 19 May 2011. Retrieved 19 May 2011. 
  20. ^ http://www.newcastleknights.com.au/news-display/Hilder-Tahu-Quinn-and-Newton-for-2014/83845
  21. ^ http://www.rugbyleagueproject.org/seasons/nrl-2014/round-26/newcastle-vs-st-george-illawarra/summary.html

External links[edit]