Vale the big fella, Steve Wirihana

Legend of the Goulburn Rugby Union Football Club, Stephen ‘The Chief’ Wirihana, died of a heart attack on June 17 in Coffs Harbour.

Steve, or Hakariwhi, was a big man with an even bigger heart. He dominated on the field and was a gentleman off it. While a bouncer at the Goulburn Rugby Club, he rarely used physical force. People who were playing up would typically look at him and change their minds.

He came to the club in the ‘80s and coached second grade with his cousin, Kevin Kara, in the early ‘90s and brought a lot of Maori culture and pride with him, such as rechristening Pig Stephens ‘Poaka’ – if he called you ‘Koro’, you knew you had his respect, and that meant a lot to anyone who heard it – and even got permission to perform a regional haka with his team mates here one year. He hated the spotlight, but loved the club.

When he worked at the Department of Main Roads [RMS], he was told not to play rugby, so we made up an alias for him so he could. Sherman Schuster: Sherman was his nickname from Penrith (Sherman Tank, I'm guessing), and Schuster, who was a Maori player for Newcastle Knights at the time). At all times he brought nothing but goodwill and respect to the club.

He is survived by wife Kathy, children Amiria and Karlena, and grandchild Aiyana. Our thoughts and prayers go out to them.