Cardiff Blues honoured regional stalwart Taufa'ao Filise at a special Testimonial Dinner last night.
Management, players both past and present plus friends and family assembled at BT Sport Cardiff Arms to celebrate his decade of service and new contract for the Blues.
During that time Filise has made 215 appearances for the region and won both the European Challenge Cup and EDF Energy Cup.
“One of the proudest moments I have had being a Cardiff Blues former player is to someone as humble as Fa’ao and as popular as Fa’ao getting the accolades and adoration he deserves after 10 years at this club and over 200 caps when he has given his all.
“He’s a great friend, a great teammate and as he mention we all start this journey together and become friends for life.”
“He’s been a great servant to the club and it’s been a pleasure to play with him for eight to ten years now.
“I’m always chasing to keep up with him and the power he shows in the game. He’s a great ambassador for the game and does his talking on the field.”
“It’s an absolute pleasure playing with Fa’ao, he’s been a legend of Cardiff Blues and is one of the most impressive individuals I have met – the way he conducts himself off the field, the way he plays on it and his athletic ability is second to none.
“He’s one of the most influential players I have played with here in Cardiff Blues and it’s fantastic news that he’s signed an extension. The day he does leave will be very sad because he’s been a great sevant.”
“I know Fa’ao from back home for a long time. The big fella has done well, it’s a tremendous achievement and we are very proud of him.
“He’s a very quiet down to earth guy, a good team man and was always a big guy who is passionate about rugby and his mates. Regardless, he will do anything for his teammates both on and off the field.”
“It’s been an absolute privilege to play alongside Fa’ao for all thoe years. Hes an absolute machine of a tighthead and I’ll never forget the try against Toulouse.
“He bounced off players and gassed Clement Poitrenaud and Vincent Clerc over 30 metres.
“He was unbelievable during out glory years winning trophies and deserves everything he gets from the game.
“It’s been a privilege to get to know him on the pitch but more importantly off it – he’s an absolute gentleman and good luck with your last year but knowing him is it his last year?”
“It’s been a great honour to play alongside Fa’ao. He certainly is one of the hardest hitters I have come across but a real gent.
“I remember one time where he smacked me down in training and where as most people laugh, he apologised, picked me up and dusted me off.
“It’s been great to play against you and with you and hopefully you have another good year at Cardiff.”
“As a youngster I remember my first day walking into the changing rooms at the Blues with players like Xavier Rush, Gethin Jenkins and Martyn Williams – all of these established, world-class players.
“As an academy boy you can be quite nervous, I remember putting my bag down for the first weights session and seeing this big, massive, beast of a bloke.
“You would think he’s this angry man off the field but he came over put his arm around me and introduced himself. The two Tongan guys were the most down to earth, genuine guys you could meet.”