Timana Tahu of St Kilda and other places

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By: Daisy

Hello sports fans, Daisy here to talk football (not that football but other codes). It is 2012 and Queensland has beaten New South Wales (NSW) to win a seventh consecutive State of Origin rugby league series. However, what I want to revisit is 2005 and the last NSW Origin series win starring a man who grew up in St Kilda. His name is Timana Tahu.

Tahu was born on the 16th of October 1980 to an Aboriginal mother and Maori father. He grew up in St Kilda until the age of 12 when he moved with his mother to country NSW.  After playing junior rugby league, the eighteen-year-old Tahu made his National Rugby League (NRL) senior debut for the Newcastle Knights in 1999. He played three games that season. In 2000, playing on the wing, he topped the Knights try scoring list (a feat he would repeat in the next two years).

In 2001, Tahu played his first representative game playing in the centres for NSW Country in their 42-10 thrashing of NSW City. Later that season, he scored the winning try for the Newcastle Knights in their 30-24 NRL Grand Final win over Parramatta.

In 2002, Tahu played his first game for NSW in the State of Origin against Queensland playing all three matches. He scored a try in the second game. In the same year, Tahu was selected to play for the Australian Kangaroos. The fact that his mother was born in Australia and his father in New Zealand made him eligible to play for either Australia (Kangaroos) or New Zealand (Kiwis).

Tahu had yet another stellar season in 2003 where he became the Knights all time highest try scorer (since been beaten by Adam MacDougall). He again played all three Origin games, scoring three tries. However, injury kept him out of the national team as well as most of the 2004 season where he played only eight games.

In 2005, Tahu would leave Newcastle for the Parramatta Eels on a $400,000 a year deal. A move to the centres saw him awarded joint Eels player of the year with Nathan Cayless. Another appearance for NSW made him part of the last NSW team to win an Origin series.

Despite struggling with injuries in 2006, Tahu played for Australia against New Zealand in the ANZAC test. He also played for NSW in three Origin games, but his season ended when he hurt his knee in the third match. Another leg injury interrupted his 2007 season returning later in the year to score his 100th career try.

After nine years in the NRL, Tahu signed a four year $500,000 a year contract with the NSW Waratahs rugby union side. In 2008, Tahu made his debut against the Wellington Hurricanes, setting up two tries. He suffered a hamstring injury during the 2008 season, returning late to play in the Waratahs grand final loss to the Crusaders.

Tahu also played for Australia A in the Pacific Nations Cup. He earned himself a spot in the Wallabies squad for the Tri-Nations series involving New Zealand and South Africa where he achieved a substitute appearance against New Zealand. He played three more games for Australia becoming the 46th dual international before finishing his rugby union career in 2009.

In 2010, Tahu returned to rugby league by playing with the Parramatta Eels and earning a recall to the NSW State of Origin squad. However, he walked out in protest because of a racial slur by assistant coach Andrew Johns.  After the 2010 season, Tahu requested an extended break from the Eels pre-season training but was denied the request by new coach Stephen Kearney.

Tahu subsequently joined the Penrith Panthers in 2011 tearing his pectoral muscle after just seven games. He then signed with his original club Newcastle Knights for the 2012 season where he is still playing, thus proving that St Kilda can produce a variety of sporting stars.

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