Back to his neighbourhood2 min readReading Time: 2 minutes
After years of playing top-level rugby abroad, Lomani Tongotongo has returned home and taken the position as the new head coach for Te Papapa Rugby Club Premier team.
His impressive international record includes a five-year contract in Japan playing for the Mazda Blue Zoomers, and a player/coach position in Hawaii for the Hawaii Harlequins. After a brief return to New Zealand, he relocated to America to coach and play in Texas for the Austin Huns, where he was based for almost three seasons.
Lomani’s love for rugby began when he was a five year-old at Onehunga Primary School. He continued to thrive in the sport throughout his years at Manukau Intermediate (now Royal Oak Intermediate) ,and later at Onehunga High School. His outstanding talents on the field lead him to represent Auckland in the U19s, U21s, and U23s, before moving to Invercargill to play for Southland U23s, Southland Development, and the Southland Stags Air New Zealand Cup team (Mitre 10 Cup).
Lomani is proud of his Tongan roots and humble beginnings, and he is grateful that the game of rugby has not only helped him travel the globe, but it has brought him full circle back to Onehunga. His return to Te Papapa brings happy childhood memories of playing touch rugby and bullrush with his neighbourhood friends, down at Fergusson Park.
He says, “Growing up, there was always something fun happening down at the club. I’ve always wanted to give back to my local club, so this was the perfect chance. Rugby and coaching have always been my passion, so this was an opportunity that I could not pass up”
Lomani is excited about the 2020 season, and he is looking forward to enjoying this part of his journey at the Te Papapa Rugby Club. He also hopes to make some noise in the Auckland rugby scene by causing a few upsets along the way!