General Warriors Where Are They Now 2023?

mt.wellington

mt.wellington

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99. LANCE HOHAIA
Last update

The Huntly Hurricane was still playing for St Helens RLFC during our last update but would retire only months later after after suffering ongoing serious symptoms, including memory loss and headaches that would last hours, if not days from the altercation he had with Ben Flowers during the 2014 Super League Grand Final.

Lance is set up in Michigan, USA since late 2016 and has done a number of jobs mainly around the real estate industry. Right now he is coaching a rugby team at Aquinas College, Grand Rapids.

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mt.wellington

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100. VINNIE ANDERSON
Last update

In our last update Vinnie Anderson was still playing league for AS Carcassonne RL, France. One of his team mates was former Warriors U20 player Kouma Samson.

Was very hard to find anything on him now with his last known whereabouts being player/coach for Villeghailhenc-Aragon XIII (VARL) in 2019. They play in the Elite Two division in France and in 2017 won their competition. Elite Two Championship is Frances second division league.

Did a deep search on VARL and found a few articles on him.

He played until 2019 then moved into a training role with Lézignan XIII who play in Elite One Championship before moving to the club mentioned above AS Carcassonne RL.

These days he's returned to VARL as the Head Coach.

Articles below are translated from French and I have no idea who the people are in the second articles picture.

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VARL dominates an eye-catching Salon team​

WRITTEN BY NICOLAS OCTOBER 27, 2019

VARL, winner of Lescure in the Coupe de France Georges Aillères last week, received Salon.

Vinnie Anderson's men wanted to show a different face against Salon after their defeat on the lawn of Toulon. The two teams fight a good battle during the first act and VARL leads 12-10 at the break. The few returns are good for Villegailhenc Aragon who accelerates in the second period to make the hole and even deprive Salon of the defensive bonus. Victory 36 to 16 for VARL against Salon.


Alexandre-Coutet.png

Vinnie Anderson completes his staff with a former French international​

WRITTEN BY NICOLAS AUGUST 5, 2022

The VARL has just announced the arrival of Alexandre Coutet within its staff and has confirmed Vinnie Anderson as head coach.

Vinnie Anderson, who will always be the main coach of VARL, will be accompanied by a new physical trainer for the next Elite 2 season, Alexandre Coutet. Former player and French international, he went through many Elite clubs such as Limoux, Saint-Estève, Carcassonne or Saint-Gaudens and Carcassonne. His career as a player ended, he converted to physical preparation and worked in particular with Lézignan XIII, Marseille then Carcassonne.

Following these experiences, he took the head of the Pôle espoir de Carcassonne where he will have met great promotions of players. Alexandre Coutet will be in charge of preparing for the next season in Elite 2 with a team that, like in past seasons, will want to be ambitious.

 
mt.wellington

mt.wellington

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101. JEREMIAH PAI
Last update

All we knew about Jeremiah in our last update was that he was playing league for the Pt Chev Pirates in the Auckland Fox Memorial competition. Now we have even less because he is no longer playing and we still dont know where he is working.

If anyone can help with this update please let us know...
 
mt.wellington

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102. EVARN TUIMAVAVE
Last update

Evarn had just been released on compassionate grounds from Hull FC and had returned home to NZ. That was where the trail went cold for us last update.

Despite searching everywhere I still couldn't get any info on Evarn and his whereabouts.

I did find him mentioned in some Auckland Softball news. Through a couple mates who are involved in Softball I found out that he does play and is actually really good. His daughter is also very talented.



Part of my search found that Evarn was a junior Softball rep just before signing with the Warriors and he was also the Auckland regional shot put and discus champ.

Evarn Tuimavave, of Auckland, set a record of 15.75m in the senior boys' shot put. He also won the discus with a throw of 50.56m.


If anyone can help with this update please let us know...
 
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mt.wellington

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103. KARL TEMATA
Last update

In 2014 Temata at the age of 35 signed a short term contract with Oxford Rugby League. Not long after he started his own lawn treatment company in the UK called:

GREENSLEEVES MAIDENHEAD​

38c 320x240

Karl Temata
CALL 01628 788284
GREENSLEEVES MAIDENHEAD​

Hello and welcome to Greensleeves Maidenhead. We provide a no-contract lawn treatment plan, designed around the specific needs of your lawn and its changing seasonal requirements.

A yearly plan of five treatments utilises premium-grade professional products, only available to our fully certified staff. This ensures that you have the lush, green and healthy lawn you desire without the time, expense and hassle of buying products – which are often difficult to apply without damaging your lawn.

In addition to the seasonal treatment plan we can also provide more specialised lawn care services and advise the best time to schedule the following:
  • Aeration
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  • Complete lawn renovations or bare patch overseeding
  • Spiking and application of wetting agents for drought-prone lawns
  • Lawn care and mowing advice
Rest assured your lawn is in capable hands. Your leading local lawn care expert Karl Temata originates from a pastoral farming background in New Zealand, where grass growth is always a priority!

Since then, he has worked in a white wine vineyard in the south of France and undertaken a Bachelor of Science degree majoring in horticulture, to increase his relevant scientific knowledge.

Karl brings the same ‘winning’ attitude he used playing 15 years of professional Rugby League in New Zealand, Australia, England and France – to your lawn. You could even say he now aims to make your lawn the same quality as the stadium pitches he played on!

If you think your lawn is beyond repair (weed, moss-infested, bare, dry or barren) or if you would just like some specialist lawn care advice, contact Karl for a no-obligation free quote for a lawn you and your family can enjoy all year round.


They service the Maidenhead, Windsor, Old Windsor, Stoke Poges, Farnham Common, Iver, Burnham, Taplow, Cox Green, Littlewick Green, Bourne End, Cookham, Marlow, Langley, Holyport, Bracknell, Winkfield area...
 
mt.wellington

mt.wellington

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104. MARK ROBINSON
Last update

This one took me way too long to research. His name was not only very common but made worse by the fact that most rubgy based searches turned up results for another All Black of the same name who is the current New Zealand Rugby CEO and most league related searches were for the Mohawk!

Anyway, 24 hours later and we got him.

Mark Sharky Robinson is living and working in the Isle of Man. Strangely enough his new LinkIn profile makes absolutely no mention of the job we had him at during our last update. Klas Consultancy Ltd. While researching that company looking for leads I found out it was dissolved in 2018.

While he's moved on from Microgaming to Digital Gaming Corporation its still the same industry and the following interview gives a great insight into what, where, how and why for Warrior #104.

SBC News SBC Spotlight: Mark Robinson - From All Black to Microgaming...

SBC Spotlight: Mark Robinson – From All Black to Microgaming…​

Ted Menmuir October 1, 2020
Spotlight: Mark Robinson – From All Black to Microgaming…

Mark Robinson
Kicking off October, SBC begins its ‘spotlight features’ by interviewing Microgaming Senior Partnerships lead Mark Robinson on his unique journey from All Black rugby international to igaming executive.

As the industry faces critical questions on how to broaden its workforce appeal to new talent, Robinson reflects on his critical choices and learnings that have seen his career transition from professional athlete to investment banking and now working in igaming.

______________
SBC: Mark great to interview you. From All Black to Gaming Executive, can you detail your unique career journey to SBC Audiences?

Mark Robinson (Microgaming):
It certainly wasn’t a journey I expected, but I can safely say, it is one that I am incredibly blessed to have found.

I moved over to the UK 2003 and played at both Northampton and Wasps before retiring in 2010. However, I was always very focused on life after rugby and studied throughout my professional career. Determined on moving into Banking post-retirement, I sat my Securities and Regulation papers whilst still playing (in readiness for the move). Sadly, the job I had secured at Credit Suisse was taken away only a week prior to the date I was due to start. The bank cut the whole desk, there was a lot of uncertainty in the Banking industry during this time, so evaluating the environment, I decided to explore other opportunities.

I was later offered a position at Tullett Prebon in Johannesburg to help set up their local Fixed Income business. They needed a local presence and I jumped at the opportunity in presented.

Whilst working in Johannesburg, I met my partner Hollie and It was a Christmas in 2015 when visiting Hollie’s parents in the Isle of Man, that she said I should look at what was happening job wise on the Island and Microgaming got in touch.

I met Andy Clucas COO and the rest of the executive team and a job offer followed promptly after. I loved my time in South Africa, but family comes first, and it just wasn’t the right environment to bring up my little girl.

So, it’s been a great journey that started with a move from NZ to Northampton, then on to Wasps in London, followed by a move to South Africa to meet a girl from the Isle of Man, to end up working for Microgaming! I now couldn’t be happier…

SBC: Was joining the gaming sector a tough decision from you, knowing its somewhat controversial reputation and your past as a pro athlete?

MR:
Near the end of my career I was friends with a lot of guys in the financial markets and as I studied finance as part of my degree, I naturally felt this was the direction I wanted to move into. Hindsight is a beautiful thing, but I honestly wish I had of been directed in the way of the online Gaming market earlier. It Impressed on me the professionalism of the gaming industry and the growth and opportunity the industry possesses.

You could easily challenge the Banking industry for the way they have conducted themselves in the mist of the financial crisis, so I wasn’t too worried about the gaming sector.

SBC: What has been your toughest adjustment from being involved day-to-day in professional sports to working in igaming?

MR
: Life after professional sports is a complete shock to the system. In that environment, you are institutionalised and most certainly not prepared for the real world. You go from being top of your game, a leader and respected to having to start right back at the bottom. It took a huge amount of humility and hard work.

As an individual, I am very driven to succeed and you are trying to transfer the skills learned being in the best environment in the world, the All Blacks, to the corporate environment.

In the gaming industry, there are some seriously smart and talented individuals, so I am continuingly learning from people, applying empathic awareness and developing my own identity.

I am fortunate that not only within Microgaming but in my customer base, there are some great people whom I respect and have built great relationships with and every day I am learning.

SBC: Competing in a global marketplace, iGaming is often considered a somewhat insular industry for new talent to join. From your personal experience, what approach should industry incumbents undertake to become more appealing to a global workforce?

MR:
As an industry that operates in a global market, diversity is a key ingredient to ensure our products remain relevant and attractive to the diverse range of customers that we serve as well as to be able to attract and retain a diverse range of skill and talent.

At Microgaming, they have recognised this and has for some time demonstrated itself to be an attractive employer to a variety of talent; attracting talent from outside of the industry is not just a nice to have, it’s essential. Putting Diversity of Thought, Equality and Inclusion at the heart of what they do, driving a culture that promotes innovation and where people are empowered. There are a range of initiatives that the company has that helped it grow a workforce of over 16 different nationalities and professional backgrounds ranging from retail, finance and even sport!

SBC: Maintaining a unique career journey, how have you adopted personal learnings to help improve talent development, a key dynamic assessed by all industry stakeholders?

MR:
The beauty of rugby is that it teaches you so many good qualities that are most certainly transferrable into the real world. Being a team player (removing the ego and working hard) as well as leading by example has helped enormously. I am also a big believer in goal setting to help achieve success.

I love working with people and forging meaningful relationships. There is always something to learn in the highly competitive environment that igaming is, building trust and respect is key! We had a saying in NZ rugby, No D***heads! Boiled down it simply meant no egos, and this certainly helps build that trust and respect and makes socialising with colleagues and customers a lot more fun.

SBC: Looking back at your career journey and its unique transitions, what has been the best personal advice you have ever received?

MR
: There has been a couple actually, one is ‘control the controllables‘. The nature of sport and business is that sometimes the outcome doesn’t always go your way, but it is easier to look yourself in the mirror if you know you have done everything within your power to be at your best.

Which leads me onto my next bit of great advice, and this was given right after I was dropped from the All Blacks and that is, “it is just one man’s opinion”. I was fortunate enough that there was a change of coach and opinion a couple of years later and I was back in. This has certainly helped in the corporate environment as well. Resilience, perseverance and hard work are the keys to long term success.

SBC: Finally, betting’s rugby enthusiasts would love to know… How scary was Graham Henry as All Blacks Manager and what’s it like to tackle Jonah Lomu?

MR:
Everything about Graham Henry was intimidating…A fantastic coach and so respected by all. He was a coach that when he spoke, everyone listened, and he brought the best out of the players.

Jonah was 6’4, 120kgs, thighs the size of tree trunks and ran the 100 in under 11 seconds…. It was an absolute privilege to play alongside him as he was a true global superstar and a fantastic ambassador for rugby. The one time I actually managed to tackle Jonah, I literally ran full steam into him and semi-knocked myself out. A YouTube clip that remains has to serve as my memory for that one!
_______________
Mark Robinson – Senior Partnerships Manager at Microgaming
SBC News SBC Spotlight: Mark Robinson - From All Black to Microgaming...


As stated before he has actually moved on to another company called Digital Gaming Corporation. They basically develop gaming programs for pokies in casinos and online casinos.

ERjJk7iWsAEGe0h
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Since 2014, Digital Gaming Corporation has been at the forefront of developing digital casino content. A dedicated team of industry professionals, we are passionate about providing the most innovative and engaging content for operators and their players alike.

Innovation and creativity define us.


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mt.wellington

mt.wellington

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105. THOMAS LEULUAI
Last update

During our last update Thomas Leuluaia was back playing at the NZ Warriors.

Can you believe that after making his 1st grade debut at 17 years old in 2003 Leuluai has just this month retired from the game after 20 years playing top flight. Thats 448 1st grade games and 40 Tests for the Kiwis.

In 2023 Leuluai will take on the Assistant Coach role at Wigan Warriors.

Screenshot 2022 11 18 100134 PM

Renowned for a huge hit, Kiwi Tommy Leuluai was one of Wigan’s most experienced players, in a career than spanned 12 years with the Warriors.

Son of former Hull FC and New Zealand player James Leuluai, he made his NRL debut for New Zealand Warriors in May 2003, becoming the youngest player to ever play for the Club.

A New Zealand international, he made his debut for the Kiwis aged 18 in 2003, and played his final game in October 2022 against Leeds Rhinos.

Leuluais started with London Broncos in the UK, before signing for Wigan ahead of the 2007 season
, where he went on to make 327 appearances for the Club.

Over the years Leuluai has won all there is to win in the game, including three League Leaders’ Shields, two Super Leagues, two Challenge Cup, a World Club Challenge, a Harry Sunderland trophy, a Four Nations and a World Cup.

Heritage number 997, Leuluai now makes the switch into his coaching career as an Assistant Coach to Matt Peet, alongside former teammate and fellow Assistant Coach Sean O’Loughlin.

 
mt.wellington

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106. VINCE MELLARS
Last update

Vince Mellars had just retired from footy during our last visit and we were unsure what he was up to but had evidence that he may be back in Australia working at the mines. He has since updated his LinkedIn profile and he was indeed working in the mines in Gladstone, Queensland, Australia.

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Bechtel Mining & Metals mine a whole raft of metal ores from iron to bauxite to gold.

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Our customers prioritize sustainable development — delivering jobs and training for local people and stimulating growth and business opportunities for local communities. We are proud to share their commitment to setting and achieving the highest environmental, social, and governance standards on our mining and metals projects across the globe.

We partner with our customers to deliver the projects that provide essential resources to enable a more prosperous and sustainable future. While maintaining the highest levels of ethics, integrity and environmental responsibility, our aim is to be the partner of choice by delivering projects that create superior value through industry leading design innovation and execution excellence” – Ailie MacAdam, president, Mining & Metals Business Unit.

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Mining and metals customers rely on us to deliver their world class assets including copper and gold concentrators, industrial water supply systems, iron ore and bauxite bulk materials handling facilities, refineries, aluminum smelters and phosphate plants.

By aligning everything we do to our customers’ goals, we help achieve operational and performance excellence. We combine industry-leading innovation and integrated EPC for greater capital efficiency, and our unwavering commitment to safety, quality and ethics helps us ensure we leave a lasting positive legacy in the communities we serve.


His LinkedIn profile sounded more like he was coaching youth so I Googled the name on his shirt Rogue Conditioning and found a Facebook page with pictures of him in 2019 that look like he was teaching classes. Have no idea whether he is doing that or mining or both.



There was mention of something along those lines in the 2015 thread.
Not confirmed if its the same Danny Sullivan, but there is a Danny Sullivan who is head groundsmen at Hunter Stadium. Also, for Vince Mellars, I heard on the grapevine he was involved in fitness... boot camps that sort of thing
 
mt.wellington

mt.wellington

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107. TEVITA LATU
Last update

All we knew in our previous update was that Tevita Latu was living in Auckland and playing for the Pt Chev Pirates in the Auckland Fox Memorial competition.

Its pretty much the same now with our only known whereabouts has him still playing for Pt Chev for the 2022 season and winning the Fox Memorial championship.



His LinkedIn page hasnt been updated in a long time but I do remember seeing him around the Unitec Mt Albert campus doing some camera work.

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mt.wellington

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108. JEROME ROPATI
Last update

In 2015 Jerome Ropati was working at the club as an ambassador. He left in May 2021 to be a carpenter as detailed in this interview with the Mad Butcher.



Seems he went straight from the Warriors into an office job with the Auckland City council. 3 years as a part time chippie and he's now qualified to be a building surveyor!

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mt.wellington

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109. TONY MARTIN
Last update

During our last update Tony Martin was working as an Electrician apprentice. These days he's completely changed careers and is working with Invest Blue as a financial planner.

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Download

Our Story​

At Invest Blue we’re here to help. Help challenge you to dream bigger. Help your toughest obstacles seem smaller. Help you make better decisions with the support of tailored financial advice. Help you discover your own winning ways. And help you ultimately, to believe you can live your best life. Invest Blue. It’s possible.


 
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110. EPALAHAME LAUAKI
Last update
Our last update saw him just signed with the Bradford Bulls where he would play 33 games before retiring from league in 2016.

Hame is currently a cultural advisor with the Waitemata District Health Board at North Shore Hospital after spending time in the mental health sector, mentoring young men for social service provider Vaka Tautua.

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Te Whatu Ora ‐Waitematā​

16 November 2022

For today's staff profile, we meet Epalahame - former NZ Warrior and brother of late All Black, Sione Lauaki - who shares with us his experience of grief, hope and being there for others
💕


"I haven’t talked about my brother’s passing for years. But it is always there - tucked away - and I try to keep busy and not dwell on it for too long.

He was always my ‘go-to’ … we grew up alongside each other and did everything together - so losing him was difficult.

However, I know he is still around and that’s what makes the tough times not quite so tough.

There are moments when life gets a little challenging – but I sense my brother’s presence and know that everything is going to be alright.

I also feel him with me when I’m out on the water, taking time out of the Auckland traffic and all of the noise of city life.

Sometimes, it’s like I’m hanging out with him – I’ll catch a big fish and imagine it was him who dragged it out of the sea for me.

My brother was a public figure and I also used to have a bit of a social profile as a rugby league player. So my grief at the time of his death was there for people to see.

I think it might have made some people realise that the man they saw on the footy field was quite different to the person I am in my personal life.

I’m a soft giant really and realising that has made it easier for some people to reach out to me – people in the community who I have never even met before.

The work I’m doing now as a cultural advisor enables me to build a rapport and direct them to the services and people who will be best-able to provide support.

It’s easy for anyone to say “reach out” – or “just talk to someone” but doing either of those things can be very difficult for some people.

That’s why it is so important to open the door and make it a little bit easier for them to talk to you.

I feel so humbled that I can do that for others."

 
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mt.wellington

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111. DANNY SULLIVAN
Last update

Ole Sully has sadly turned into a ghost. Have tried 100s of searches and links but to no avail. Our last update we found him being a grounds keeper at Hunter Stadium, Newcastle, NSW and doing music through Sull music but none of those searches or related searches bear fruit now. Only link it brings up is our 2015 update. Their are also other Danny Sullivans that do sport and music so the search for him is mired by their achievements.

Danny Sullivan recent 11

If anyone can help with this search please let us know...
 
mt.wellington

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112. LOUIS ANDERSON
Last update

Louis Anderson was still playing league in 2015 for the Catalan Dragons. He played for them until 2018 before joining his brother Vinnie Anderson at his player/coach team we covered in his update, Villeghailhenc-Aragon XIII (VARL). He basically came home after that and has had a few ventures.

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The Window Washer NZ has a Facebook page but hasnt been active since September 2020 which aligns with what he's posted in his LinkIn profile.



They look to have sold the Otto Real Fruit Ice Cream truck business which is now based in Tauranga, NZ.



Fresh Cleans NZ only has a Facebook presence and is still active but has barely any likes or followers. Its registered as a business with Louis listed as a director. Also according to the NZ business registry its annual return is overdue!



According to the article below he now settled in the Far North doing a bit of building and scuba diving.

Adam Blair goes home to coach under 18s against Warriors​

5:00pm, Sunday 24 April 2022. By Kelvin McDonald

Adam Blair goes home to Te Taitokerau to coach the local under 18s in a game against the Warriors in Whangarei.

"I'm here supporting the beautiful game of rugby league, grassroots as well," Blair says.

Former Warrior Louis Anderson filled Blair in on the day's events, "We've got the Northland boys, the 16s and 18s playing against the Warriors."

"I mean it's massive. Those of us involved in rugby league know it's the best sport and to have the presence of ARL (Auckland Rugby League) or the Warriors up here gives a lot of support to the community here.

"So it goes quite a long way having them around and supporting our young kids. Also for them seeing you guys, like you 'Blairy' and Ruben Wiki, it gives a lot of inspiration as well."
Anderson also explained what he is up to these days.

"I moved home a couple of years ago, I got into scuba diving, so became a scuba diving instructor. Bit strange but I love the ocean, so got into that. But I'm also building," Anderson says.


Cant find much on this but Im assuming he's living the free life much like Syd Eru and just doing anything to earn some beer money.



If you follow his Instagram stories he spends a lot of time with his kids hunting and fishing. Give him a follow. He lives a life.

 
Last edited:
mt.wellington

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113. MATT JOBSON
Last update

Last update he was working as a valuer at LMW Hegney, Gold Coast, Australia. He has moved on twice since and is currently the Regional Director of Queensland Opteon.

Screenshot 20221121 214621

Screenshot 20221121 214723

Founded in 2005,Opteon is an international provider of valuation, advisory and specialist property services through innovative software solutions in Australia, New Zealand and the United States. Opteon invests heavily in the customisation of its diverse range of technology-driven solutions proven to reduce time, increase quality, and minimise human error without eliminating human expertise. Opteon’s highly skilled people deliver bespoke experiences that exceed the property needs of all our clients.​


Matthew-Jobson-BW-1.jpg


Matthew Jobson​

Regional Director​


AREAS OF EXPERTISE​

  • Residential property valuations for mortgage security purposes
  • Prestige residential property valuations
  • Valuations for pre-purchase / pre-sale advice
  • Valuations for capital gains tax and stamp duty purposes
  • Rental valuations

INDUSTRY EXPERIENCE​

Matthew Jobson has 12 years’ experience in the residential sector of the valuation industry. Matt has held positions as Senior Valuer, Managing Valuer, QLD Operations Manager and Regional Director with Acumentis, WBP Group and Opteon Solutions.
Matt has a particular interest in the valuation of prestige residential properties.

FORMAL QUALIFICATIONS​

  • Associate Member of the Australian Property Institute (API Member No. 77665)
  • Certified Practising Valuer
  • Registered Valuer – QLD Valuers Registration Board – 3625MR
  • B. Property and Sustainable Development (Valuation)
  • Grad. Cert. Business Administration
 
mt.wellington

mt.wellington

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114. PAUL DEZOLT
Last update

Found a podcast from 2020 that had Paul Dezolt as a guest. As with our last update he is still managing his pulmonary hypertension which had him quite crook in the past. He seems to come out the other end but will need medication for the rest of his life.


36.10 health issues and what he's doing now​


He's able to work part time now and is a Indigenous Support Officer at Gilroy Santa Maria College.

Screenshot 2022 11 22 120105 AM

Page 21 of this pdf

Gilroy fc landscape

Principal's Message​


Gilroy Santa Maria College is a co-educational Catholic College administered by Townsville Catholic Education with a current enrolment of approximately 350 students.

We are recognised throughout Northern Queensland as a school that has achieved great success in the academic, cultural, sporting and vocational fields over the past 60 years.

Our curriculum is broad, allowing for the development of students in many areas. We have a skilled Student Support Services Team available to provide counselling, career advice and learning support for students, parents and teachers.

Gilroy Santa Maria strongly promotes a friendly, learning, Catholic community and encourages the growth of our students through the gospel values. Our staff are dedicated professionals with a supportive, pastoral approach who believe in holistic development of our young men and women in the Catholic tradition.

I invite you to visit our community and see our beautiful grounds and working environment. Gilroy Santa Maria College would be an excellent choice of Secondary College for your child and I am confident you would experience what it means to be a part of a friendly, learning, Catholic community.

Kevin Barnes, College Principal​


 
mt.wellington

mt.wellington

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115. MANU VATUVEI
Last update

Last update he was still playing for us and would leave for Salford City Reds in 2017.

Now he is in jail serving a 3 year 7 month sentence for importing 500 grams of methamphetamine from India.

Former rugby league star Manu Vatuvei sentenced on meth import charge

1:24 pm on 2 March 2022
Manu Vatuvei pictured in March 2021.

Photo: RNZ / Simon Rogers

Former rugby league star Manu Vatuvei has been sentenced to three years and seven months in prison for importing at least $200,000 of methamphetamine from India.

The 35-year-old admitted his role in importing around 500 grams of methamphetamine from India, after denying it for nearly two years after being charged. He appeared for sentencing in the Manukau District Court today before Judge Jonathan Moses.

"Your fall from grace is a punishment in itself," Judge Moses said during sentencing.

His brother, Lopini Mafi, was also sentenced to jail after pleading guilty to importing commercial quantities of methamphetamine. He admitted to importing around two kilograms, however it was accepted that other, non-intercepted packages where the weight was not known would have increased that amount.

Mafi was jailed for seven years and two months.

Manu Mafi-Vatuvei, as his name was registered in court, admitted a representative charge of importing the class A drug last October just before he was due to stand trial. He was known through his league career as Manu Vatuvei.

Today in the Manukau District Court, Vatuvei's lawyer Vivienne Feyen said he accepted responsibility for his offending.

"My client is genuinely and deeply regretful and remorseful for his actions … he is disgraced," Feyen said.

"He has fallen from grace, not a little, but a long way," Feyen said.

Vatuvei, she said, was not in charge of the operation, but was "under direction" of his older brother, Lopini Mafi, who was linked to a number of importations from around the world.

The Crown submitted that Mafi was the New Zealand head of a small importation ring bringing in commercial amounts of methamphetamine.

Feyen said Vatuvei was roped in when Mafi was hospitalised and temporarily unable to undertake his role.

Vatuvei acted not with the intention of financial gain but out of familial obligation, Feyen told the judge.

Judge Moses rejected that there would have been no intention of financial gain. He said Vatuvei has an opportunity to turn his life around following this.

"Your final legacy in the community does not have to be defined by what has happened today. It can be defined by what you choose to do from today onwards. When you are released you will still have a lot of your life to live, and it's clear you will have the ongoing love and support of your wider family and friends," Judge Moses said.

"I'm sure it would make them even more proud if you are able to make different choices in the future. I hope that you do so," Judge Moses said.

Vatuvei was remanded on bail ahead of his sentencing. The Crown withdrew the other charges he was facing when he pleaded guilty to a representative charge, meaning multiple similar offences were committed.

Vatuvei was arrested in November 2019 at his family home, where the "methamphetamine" - actually a placebo - was delivered in a "controlled delivery" by an undercover Customs officer acting as a courier driver. Twelve minutes later police raided the house and arrested Vatuvei and Mafi.

Vatuvei initially fought to keep his name secret, but name suppression was declined by both the District Court and High Court.

Days before suppression was due to lapse, he outed himself on Instagram At the time, he told his followers he wanted them to hear directly from him that he was accused of possessing and importing methamphetamine in 2019.

"I'll be fighting my innocence for these charges," he said.

"I know there'll be a lot of questions that will be wanting answers but I've been advised by my legal team that's all I can talk about. So hopefully you can all respect that, and also can you please respect the privacy of my family while I go through this battle."

Between 2004 and 2017, Vatuvei played 14 seasons for the Warriors and scored 152 tries over 226 games.

He was nicknamed "the Beast" and became the first player in NRL history to complete the feat of scoring 10 tries or more in 10 consecutive seasons in 2015.

In 2019 he had success in Dancing with the Stars, winning the series with dance partner Loryn Reynolds.

Warriors winger Manu Vatuvei

Manu Vatuvei in his playing days with the Warriors. Photo: Photosport

Operation Clydesdale​

Court documents show police began investigating Vatuvei in October 2019.

He was charged in November that year, alongside three other men - one of them his brother, Lopini Mafi, who has also pleaded guilty.

Mafi was in charge of importing of the drugs, through a contact in Africa code named 'Big Boss'.

Vatuvei helped with the logistics, checking when packages were arriving and asking others to make calls to courier companies.

All up, between July 2019 and November 2019, the defendants were caught importing just over two kilograms of meth across four different packages.

Vatuvei had a hand in two of the imports - one package that contained 487.5 grams of the drug - about the weight of a block of butter - hidden in skipping rope handles. The other package was not intercepted by authorities. At about $500 per gram, that amount could sell for around $200,000.

Data from Mafi's phone showed he sent photos and video of some of the packages once they had arrived back to 'Big Boss'.

In one of the videos, Mafi and Vatuvei can be seen sorting through the package, removing the packets of meth.

In relation to one of the package's Vatuvei was charged over, text messages show him and another one of the defendants confirming the arrival of the drugs.

"Lessgooooo once I'm done here I'll come down and then we can open it up sweet," Vatuvei said.

"Nothing moves without you," the other defendant replied.

Vatuvei then texted another person, saying: "We on. Call you soon."

Customs officers intercepted the second package and replaced most of the methamphetamine with a placebo, leaving just five grams of actual methamphetamine.

A chemical marking powder was placed on the package, which would be transferred on to the clothing or skin of the person opening it.

The package was delivered by an undercover Customs officer, posing as a courier driver.

It was opened by Mafi and Vatuvei and minutes later, police arrived to search the house.

Both men were arrested and various items were found in the house. The chemical marking powder was also detected on their clothes and skin.

 
mt.wellington

mt.wellington

Warriors Orange Peeler
Contributor
116. SHANNON STOWERS
Last update

Our last update we had nothing concrete on him since 2010 when he was said to be a NFL scout and possibly working in construction.

Ive found his profile on LinkedIn but I'm not sure how up to date it is as he hasn't been active lately. I've emailed Cubicon so hopefully we get a reply...

316413947 10230116119585622 4904587402598996532 n

316416294 10230116120145636 4606357065038547320 n


UPDATE

He is indeed still working at Cubicon. Had a reply to my email from the man himself.

Screenshot 2022 11 22 51558 PM

Screenshot 2022 11 22 52724 PM

ABOUT
CUBICON​

An Auckland born fit out company, this year celebrating 30 years’ experience. We are known for our consistency and high quality labour force, management and subcontractor teams. We deliver both full contract fit outs for end users, as well as providing a vital subcontracting resource helping some of New Zealand’s most respected Construction companies deliver high quality fit outs.

Goodman2

 
Last edited:
mt.wellington

mt.wellington

Warriors Orange Peeler
Contributor
117. HEREWINI RANGI
Last update

Our last update saw Herewini Rangi working as the KiwiSport Rugby League Officer for Sport Gisborne Tairawhiti and he was involved in the community programs the club ran when the NSW Cup team played in Gisborne against the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks in 2014.

These days Herewini is a Youth Peer Support & Advocacy worker in the Gisbourne area.

Screenshot 2022 11 22 30935 PM
Screenshot 2022 11 22 31000 PM

 
mt.wellington

mt.wellington

Warriors Orange Peeler
Contributor
118. COOPER VUNA
Last update

Cooper Vuna was still playing for Japanese Rugby Union club Toshiba Brave Lupus during our last visit on his whereabouts.

Can you believe that after making his professional debut in 2004 that he only just retired from playing last year after 18 years as a professional athlete. Coops only recently took up a role as Head of Womans RugbyHead of Womans Rugby at Durham University Rugby Football Club.

Despite looking everywhere it seems the only place you will find an announcement of his appointment in August 2022 is on Cooper Vuna's Linkedin profile. The link to the Durham University Rugby team doesnt even mention the womens team at all.

Screenshot 20221122 160656


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