A young Tongan talented rugby league star in New Zealand has been described as the best among his grandfathers and maternal uncles who played for Tonga’a national rugby team, ‘Ikale Tahi.
Heneli Faioso Jr Luani, 15, of Ha’ateiho and Kolofo’ou in Tonga but living in Auckland who played in numbers 12 and 13 in the Pakuranga Rugby League Jaguar is being described as a ‘God-gifted talent’.
Heneli played strongly and quickly, was excellent in sidestepping his opposition and could successfully fend them off with one arm, according to a video shared by his mother Manusiu Luani on Facebook.
He has been repeatedly awarded with Most Valuable Player of the Year, Sportsman of the Year and has captained some of his rugby union and rugby league teams.
He is currently being signed up for a three year contract with the Warriors.
Manusiu has described her son’s rugby playing history as ‘malie’ (excellent).
She said her father, Paseisei Havili, her grandfather ‘Anitelu Havili, her brothers Aisea, Salesi and Lisiate Havili all played for the ‘Ikale Tahi.
She said her father told her her son had the best rugby talent among them all.
“It’s true,” Manusiu said with a laugh.
She said the secret behind Heneli’s great rugby talent was that it was in his blood.
Heneli first played rugby union at Tepapa Rugby Union Club in Onehunga when he was five. His parents then moved him to Grammer Calton Rugby Union club at Cornwall Park in Greenlane.
He was captain of the Oranga Primary School rugby team when they won the Primary Schools rugby tournament’s seal in his final year. He was awarded the best player of the year.
While he was at the Remuera Intermediate he was moved to Ellerslie Eagles RLC 2015 when he was 11 years old. The young rugby powerhouse chose to shift from playing rugby union to playing rugby league.
Manusiu said the change in his rugby careers was influenced by his palagi supporters who shouted that he was a good rugby league player when Heneli ran in the field.
The first time he played rugby league at Ellerslie the coach was deeply impressed by his talent, Manusiu said.
Heneli won the Most Valuable Player of the Year for Under 12 in his first year in Rugby League.
He was selected to represent Auckland rugby league Under 13
Last year he moved to the Pakuranga Jaguars Under 14 ARL where the Warriors has signed him up for a contract.
This year he was signed for a three-year contract with Warriors.
He was the captain of the Pakuranga Kings Under 15.
He was also named the Remuera Sportsman of the Year in 2016, with the prize being presented to him by Tongan All Black ‘Ofa Tu’ungafasi.
In 2014 the Grammar Carlton awarded Heneli with the Most Valuable Player of the Year at its Annual prize Giving. His prize was presented by Simon Hickey from Auckland Blues.
Heneli played his first Rugby League game in 2015 and was named player of the day and first runner up player of the year, his mother said.
He was picked for the Pacific Cup as well as for under 16 this year from the Warriors.