Filo Tiatia opens up on his time as ‘grandaddy’ in Wales
Former All Black Filo Tiatia still takes pride and learnings from the final years of his playing career at Ospreys in Wales.
The loose forward is currently assistant coach for Mitre 10 Cup province Auckland under fellow Samoan Namulauulu Alama Ieremia, his old Hurricanes teammate.
Tiatia told Ben James from WalesOnline that ten years on from the end of his time in Wales he still watches the Ospreys’ games.
“Seeing the guys I played with progress and go on to further things, playing for Wales or the Lions, it's the best feeling as you've played a little part in their journey,” he said.
"It's one of the things you can do as a player and a coach. How can you help pass on knowledge and experience?"
After leaving New Zealand shores in 2001, Tiatia played four years at Toyota Verblitz in Japan before arriving in Swansea aged 34.
He said he truly enjoyed being the mentor for the young Ospreys side when he got there, though picked up an unwanted nickname early on:
"The hooker, Barry Williams, was called the daddy. And then I turned up and was the oldest of the group and they started calling me grandaddy.
"I didn't actually like it! But it felt like there was a bit of a responsibility being the oldest in the group."
Tiatia said there were a lot of cultural changes the team needed to make to succeed:
“I just felt there was a lot of hypocrisy, wrongly or rightly.
"People would say one thing, but then do something completely different. I guess it sort of happened over, particularly the first year.”
He felt the environment he walked into included behaviours that were unacceptable, and the challenge was getting the message across that those behaviours were affecting others.
"The analogy is, I guess, would you do something or say something in front of your mother? You probably wouldn't,” he said.
"It's little things but in the grand scheme of things, they become big when it comes down to the crunch of who would actually stay in the fight and wouldn't give up.”
Ospreys’ soul searching paid off as the team took out the 2006/07 Celtic League title in Tiatia’s first season, then again in his final year in Wales.
The forward made his 99th appearance for the region in his last ever game for them; a 2009/10 title clinching win over Irish side Leinster.
"I wouldn't say it was a fairytale ending, but for a 38-year-old, it was a satisfying one,” Tiatia said.
"It was a great experience, coming over to the UK, meeting some great people, getting to know the short history of what they call Ospreylia and being a small part of what it is today."