Interview: Inga Tuigamala

In the spirit of the season, The Waiwera Society spoke to Inga 'The Winger' Tuigamala - learning about his history as a rugby player, his childhood heroes and getting his views on the advantages of the home turf.

Which New Zealand rugby teams have you played for?
Obviously Auckland is my provincial team, so for the Auckland franchise as well as the Super Blues. Ponsonby is my club, I’ve been with them since 1976 as a young kid. So those are my teams, that I’ve played for.

Waiwera is one of New Zealand’s legendary stories. Who are your legends or heroes?
Sporting legends – definitely the great Bryan Williams, BG Williams, in the All Blacks in the 70s. He was one of the first Pacific Islanders to tear up the rugby field – so as a young kid, I was looking up to him. Also with the great Michael Jones, one of the more modern heroes that we’ve got – he was our local hero, who played in our local club, in our backyard really. Just seeing him excel and doing extremely well, being a wonderful role model and creating that pathway for a lot of us Pacific Islanders to follow in his tread.

How important is playing on the home turf?
Home advantage is always worth a few points, or worth a headstart. I’ve got no doubt that as we go into this World Cup, we’ve got a huge advantage over most countries. And you’ve seen in the past years in the previous World Cups that teams with the home advantage, it plays a big factor in whether they get into the finals or win the finals. We saw it in South Africa in 1995, when South Africa hosted it; we saw it in 1987, the inaugural World Cup, so it just goes to show that home advantage is very important for us.

What factors contribute to this home turf advantage?
There are a lot of factors that contribute to that advantage – obviously the home support, the die-hard fans, and just what it means to our players to know the whole nation is right behind them. The games are going to be tough, you know – the World Cup finals are going to be tough. There’s no guarantee that we’ll make the finals, however, with the home advantage it really does connect us to our people. Hopefully that’s the winning edge that we need to push us right through.