Evarn Tuimavave will proudly follow in the sprigmarks of his well known uncles on Saturday but is determined his Kiwis rugby league test career will not be as fleeting as theirs.
The Warriors prop will become Kiwi No 751 when he clunks heads with England giants Adrian Morley and Jamie Peacock in Saturday’s World Cup pool match in Newcastle.
Tuimavave’s uncles both played test football for the Kiwis: outside back Paddy had two tests against Papua New Guinea in 1990 and second rower Tony made a solitary appearance against Australia.
He spoke to both before crossing the Tasman for this World Cup campaign, and their advice was simple.
“They wished me a bit of luck and said `don’t hold back when you get in the jersey’.”
Tuimavave got his chance when coach Stephen Kearney rested captain Nathan Cayless and bench prop Sam Rapira, who played all 27 Warriors matches this year then consecutive tests against Tonga, Australia and PNG.
A late callup for the Cup after Jeff Lima was ruled out with injury, a beaming Tuimavave said keeping a lid on his emotions was the biggest task.
“I’m trying not to get that far ahead, just visualise the game first. It’s going to be a massive night, something I’ve always dreamed of and waited a long time for.”
It’s been six years and 99 National Rugby League (NRL) matches since Tuimavave’s Warriors debut.
With the now-retired Ruben Wiki, Roy Asotasi (pectoral injury) and Cayless standing in the way, and then Rapira and Lima jumping the queue, injury was going to be his most likely ally.
“Roy’s been on fire the last couple of seasons, it’s been a wait and it’s unfortunate I had to come in with a few injuries. But you’ve got to take your chances and I guess it’s up to me.”
Kearney admitted Cayless would welcome a rest as he battled a knee problem, but wasn’t in danger of missing the semifinals.
He was impressed by Tuimavave’s final month of the NRL season for the Warriors.
With Saturday’s match having little riding on it, ahead of a likely semifinal rematch a week later, Kearney reshuffled his side with five personnel and six positional changes.
In the starting 13, wing Jason Nightingale replaced Sam Perrett after his two-try double in the 48-6 win over PNG; centre Steve Matai returned from suspension for Krisnan Inu; while second rower David Fa’alogo moved up from the bench for Setaimata Sa.