NRL News, Olsen Filipaina dead, dies, rugby league legend, Balmain, Kiwis

Rugby league legend Olsen Filipaina has died aged 64.

The Balmain and Kiwis icon was hospitalized a fortnight ago with kidney failure and is also said to have had lupus. He had been in the intensive care unit on a ventilator.

He died in Westmead Hospital.

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New Zealand won games against mighty Australia that they weren’t allowed to win in the 1980s – because of Olsen Filipaina.

That’s the view of legendary Kiwi hardman Dane Sorensen, who fought in the trenches alongside The Big O in many battles.

“Olsen was a good player at club level for Balmain, but when he put on the Kiwi sweater he became a great player,” Sorensen, now 68, told Wide World of Sports.

“He was a quiet guy off the pitch, but once he stepped out in black and white he was an inspiration to all of us.

“He was big and strong and would run through brick walls for his buddies.

“There were games we shouldn’t have won – the Australians were so superior to us on paper – but Olsen got us over the line.

“On a famous day he was struggling for the Tigers and was on reserve, but the Kiwi managers had faith in him – they picked him and he was the man of the match in a big New Zealand win.”

Sorensen said Filipaina was extremely popular with her teammates.

“He was calm and didn’t drink but had a great sense of humor – he will be sorely missed.”

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