Internationals Wiki reveals troubled past


22 October 2006

Kiwis captain Ruben Wiki is a poster boy for fair play on and off the league field.

A proud Warrior and loving family man, Wiki is a role model to thousands of young players.

But behind his public persona is a shameful secret.

Wiki's budding league career - and even his life - could have been lost when he drove drunk into a motorway pole in a horror crash that seriously injured his mate.

The shocking chapter in his life is revealed in his explosive new biography - Ruben Wiki - which hits the bookstands this week.

It was 1992, and budding Junior Kiwis star Wiki was due to play in the national under-19 tournament.

"I had gained my learner driver's licence, I'd been drinking ... and I got into a car and drove into the city. That was bad enough," Wiki said in his biography.

"Even worse was that I had a crash, smashing into a pole on the motorway under Grafton bridge, and the engine was shoved right through to the rear of the car.

"I had a mate with me who had his leg broken in three places, but I escaped with nothing more than a stitch. I really shouldn't be here."

Wiki was arrested and charged. His subsequent conviction forced him out of the Junior Kiwis' season-ending tour of the UK.

"I was charged with a drink-driving offence and suffered the shame of being given six months' community service ... that's what ended my hopes of making the tour to England.

"It's the darkest experience of my life, a time when I disappointed myself and my family - and it's something I'll always live with.

"I did my time and, fortunately, appreciated what a wake-up call it was.

"I thought it was cool being one of the boys and going into town, trying to act big. Instead, I made a huge mistake and I'm only thankful it didn't turn out a lot worse.

"I managed to make something positive of my life as a result of that, though, by going off the drink for a whole year, at a time when I was heading towards a dramatic development in my career and my life by taking the boy out of Otara and moving to Canberra."

Wiki, 33, went on to play 12 seasons for the Raiders before joining the Warriors in 2005.

His test last night against Australia was his 52nd -making him the most capped player in the history of international league.

Wiki largely gave away the booze after his crash ordeal. But he is a fan of the traditional Polynesian drink kava - which he drinks to relax after every game.

Wiki's mother, Tessa, believes a guardian angel was watching over her son the night of his car smash - the spirit of her father Herman.

"My mother had a very special dream and she relayed it to me," Tessa said in Wiki's biography.

"It was about my father (who had passed away) and a fast-moving train with me standing beside it.

"When Mum woke up she knew that something had happened to one of my children or me. When I phoned her the next morning to be consoled about Ruben, she told me about the dream.

"This could have been confused with a small miracle, but I believed my father had been watching over Ruben that night and for good reason."

Tessa also revealed Wiki considered withdrawing from the under-19 tournament which propelled him to league stardom. But the future Kiwis captain finally fronted up after a stern talking to.

"Ruben was very downhearted about what happened to his mate but his friend insisted he should go to the under-19 tournament to play for Auckland," Tessa said.

"And I said to Ruben, `Now look here, do you want to play in the nationals or not? That's the blunt end of it. You were looked after by Granddad Herman in that accident for a reason, so what are you going to do?"'

Ruben Wiki, written by award-winning author Richard Becht, is published by Hodder Moa and is on sale nationwide from Thursday.

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