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Player of the week: Inia Katia

Inia Katia the lineman. PHOTO/JADE CVETKOV

Inia Katia has been the spark in the Carterton backline in the Town and Country series. CHRIS COGDALE caught up with the Fijian livewire.

Inia Katia arrived in New Zealand in 2011, brought out by Gladstone coach Steve Thompson to play for the club.

Ten years on, with three club championships, and 88 games for Wairarapa-Bush, the little Fijian magician now calls Wairarapa home.

In 2012 he met Jenna, the daughter of Wai-Bush centurion Bernie Lett and his wife Karen, who was a talented sportswoman. They married in Fiji two years later and now have two daughters – Honor, 7, and Nani, 4, and a son Manoa, 2.

It was the Lett connection with Carterton that led to the 32-year-old transferring to the Maroons to finish his playing career.

“I always respect Steve and Cath, and I always treat them as my New Zealand parents because they’re the reason I’m here, and they support my family and me,” said Katia.

“But I always told them that I was going to play one season for my in-laws’ club before I retire, so I decided to go this year, and I went and talked to them about it, and they understood, and they were surprised it hadn’t happened ages ago.”

Katia, now working as a lineman, started as a halfback but has been used in various positions throughout the backline, from fullback to wing, and he is now in the midfield.

“When I worked in forestry, I was skinny, I always liked halfback, because I love seeing the ball all the time, and I always tell the coaches I’m too slow to be on the outside.

“I’ve always wanted to play inside, second-five or centre, and when I turned up to Carterton, I had a talk to Neil [Rodger] the coach and told him I wanted to play second-five and centre, and I’m enjoying it.”

Katia is also relishing the culture at the club and being able to pass on his knowledge to the young talented side.

“We’ve got the fastest backline too, and we’re all Islanders, and we’ve only got two Palagi – Darryl [Pickering] at halfback, and Sam [Morison] our first-five.”

Katia’s aim is to emulate father-in-law Bernie and bring up his century for Wai-Bush.

“I was hoping to have my 100 games this year, and I’ll hang up my boots, but it depends how the body hangs on, and now the body takes a long time to recover.”

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