Rugby league legend Olsen Filipaina has died at the age of 64.
The Balmain and Kiwis icon was hospitalised a fortnight ago when his kidneys failed, and reportedly also had lupus. He had been in the intensive care unit on a ventilator.
He died in Westmead Hospital.
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New Zealand won games against the mighty Australia they had no right to win in the 1980s – because of Olsen Filipaina.
That’s the view of legendary Kiwi hardman Dane Sorensen, who fought in the trenches alongside The Big O in many battles.
“Olsen was a good player at club level for Balmain but when he pulled on the Kiwi jumper, he became a great player,” Sorensen, now 68, told Wide World of Sports.
“He was a quiet guy off the field but once he got out there in the black and white, he was an inspiration to us all.
“He was big and strong and would run through brick walls for his mates.
“There were games we should not have won – the Aussies were so much superior to us on paper – but Olsen got us over the line.
“One famous day he was struggling for the Tigers and was in reserve grade but the Kiwi selectors had faith in him – they chose him and he was man of the match in a great New Zealand win.”
Sorensen said Filipaina was extremely popular with his teammates.
“He was quiet and didn’t drink but had a great sense of humour – he will be sadly missed.”
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