Man who made debut in 1989 to play 500th club game

Whakatane Marist veteran Steve Mapu will begin his 27th consecutive season.
Whakatane Marist veteran Steve Mapu will begin his 27th consecutive season.

Steven Mapu hits the 500 mark this weekend.

The 49-year-old will take the field in his 500th official Senior A grade game for Whakatane Marist in a pre-season home hitout against Marist St Michael's.

Mapu started his senior career with Whakatane Marist in 1989, at the dawn of the Bay of Plenty Baywide competition. He has played without a season break for 27 years.

Within his career he has represented Bay of Plenty at a representative level.

Whakatane Marist's premier coach and former New Zealand Maori coach Matt Te Pou says of Mapu's commitment to the game: "Steven has always shown incredible commitment to the code. There have only been a handful of games within the 27 years he hasn't played as a result of injury, bereavement or being stood down. But despite this it is a rare occasion that he would be absent from training. You always know Steve is going to be there.

"He is an inspiration to all players around him. At 49 and achieving 500 games, it is fantastic for him and a great achievement the club, past and present players will celebrate and acknowledge his devoted support"

Mapu is humble of his looming milestone: "It is just another game of rugby for me. I haven't counted the games I have played, but I guess it seems someone has. I started with my first game and have just carried on because I love it.

"I have stayed with the club through good and the bad, but at the end of the day the beer is still cold and you still have your mates around, and that is what matters."

The loosehead prop hints at why he keeps on playing: "I love the trainings, and playing for the boys. It is neat when you have all these young fellas around you and you smash them in a fitness test, then you remind them how old you are and have a laugh".

Match: Whakatane Marist v Marist St Michael's
Where: Whakatane Marist Sports Club, Arawa Road
Time: 1.30pm
Date: Saturday February 27

- NZ Herald

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