New Zealand Kiwis Rugby League. The Big O. The Life and times of Olsen Filipaina. The Ellis Rugby Book Preview

From Kevin Ellis, Founder of Ellis Rugby

We were saddened by the news of the death of the great Olsen Filipaina. On Thursday last week the 10th February 2022. We’d planned to include Olsen’s great book ‘The Big O’ in our Chill-Out Sunday Book Preview a few weeks backs. From a personal perspective. I loved watching Olsen play. He combined great powers with subtle skills and was undoubtedly a trail-blazer in the game. His ability to bump off would-be tacklers. Using them almost as a ‘speed bump’ – must have been a nightmare for opponents. We aim to publish our tribute to Olsen in a few weeks on our blog. Our thoughts are with Olsen’s family & friends.

New Zealand Kiwis Rugby League. The Big O. The Life and Times of Olsen Filipaina: Patrick Skene (Author)

Patrick Skene was born and raised in Sydney. And writes stories on the intersection of sport, history, and culture. His work has appeared in Guardian Australia. Also, The Age, Inside Sport,, and Footy Almanac. He previously hosted an Aboriginal sports history radio program. This was on the National Indigenous Radio Service. And a boxing program on SEN Radio Melbourne. The Big O is his first book.

Here’s the New Zealand Kiwis Rugby League. The Big O. Book Preview

The Big O by Patrick Skene is the story of Olsen Filipaina. A New Zealand Hall of Fame rugby league legend who was a pathfinder for the Maori and Pasifika players. Who today dominate the Australian National Rugby League. In a career that saw him play 29 Tests for New Zealand. And more than 100 first-grade NSWRL games. Filipaina was an object of fascination for the rugby league community. To fans he was “the Galloping Garbo”. A working-class hero who thrilled crowds in between shifts as a garbageman. To opponents. Who feared his Polynesian power game,. He was The Big O. To coaches and critics, he was simply “Olsen the enigma”.

Features the New Zealand Kiwis Rugby League legend Mark Graham & Coach Sir Graham Lowe

Featured in the book are some of the pivotal figures of 1980s Australia and New Zealand sport. Including Sir Graham Lowe, Arthur Beetson, and Roy Masters. In addition, Sir Peter Leitch, David Tua and Sir Bryan Williams. Also, Wayne Pearce, Sir Michael Jones, and John Ribot. Plus, Mark Graham, David Lange, and NRL Immortal Wally Lewis. Who for the first time opens up about being outplayed by Filipaina in the 1985 Test series.

Tackles racism and cultural issues Olsen experienced

The Big O tracks Olsen’s story from his rise out of working-class South Auckland. To overcome depression, racism, and cultural dislocation in Sydney. To the Cinderella story of his success for the New Zealand Kiwis. Forty years after Filipaina burst into Australian rugby league. Skene relates the tale of a humble and principled man. A dynamic and magical pioneer of the ‘Pacific Revolution’.

How he helped reshape the game of Rugby League

The Big O’ is a timely story of resilience. Redemption, bravery, and love. To understand Olsen’s story is to understand the cultural changes that have reshaped the game of rugby league.

Where to buy?

Available from Amazon to VIEW. Also, why not take a look at our  New Zealand Rugby League Shirt Vintage Style, Polo or T-Shirt.