BY Lagi Keresoma
APIA: THURSDAY 7 NOVEMBER 2013: In his frequent trips between Samoa and New Zealand Peter Fats often stayed at Aggie Greys Lagoon Beach Resort and Spa near Faleolo airport.
Such was the case last Monday when he flew in from Auckland. As usual he arrived with candy for them staff member, Lina Eli said.
As a requiem mass was held at Vaivase Tai, just inland of Apia, for Fats this morning, resort staff busied to prepare the resort.
There the body of the rugby legend rests for a final time before he was scheduled to fly to Auckland, New Zealand, to his family at 7pm…and to his final resting place.
It is understood wife Anne wanted her husband brought over as soon as possible.
Another rugby icon La’auli Alan Grey, former coach of the national team, and a generous supporter of Samoan rugby, is a major shareholder in the resort and wanted the rugby legend to stop by one more time.
The Head of State, Ministers of Cabinet, members of the diplomatic corp and students of St Joseph’s and Avele colleges were amongst friends and relatives who attended the requiem mass.
Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi, who is from the same village of Lepa as Fatialofa, is overseas.
Eulogies were delivered at a service at the Catholic Church at Vaivase-Tai at 11am before the mass was held at 2pm.
Long after his playing days Fats, as he was typically called, featured on television ads here, one of which he just says, “Too much!”
“He was just “too much,” said former Manu Samoa lock Potu Leavasa.
Team mates called him “Papafield.”
On the field at practice or in a test game, Fats will always push the team to the limit, Leavasa said.
Lawyer George Latu was a competitor for the Number 3 jersey.
“We always competed for the position,” said Latu, until he switched over to the other side of the scrum and they ended up playing together instead of one waiting for the other to get injured.
He loved his team and he always instigated moves and action when on the field, he said.
“He had a big heart, good heart and a happy heart.”
Another team mate Solamalemalo Keneti Sio remembered how “Fats” got him and fellow Manu Samoa Stan To’omalatai to film a Sudso advertisement with two All Blacks.
“He just rushed us through it without any explanation,” said Solamalemalo.
Later he gave him money and said, “Don’t tell Stan.”
In another incident, Solamalemalo and Fats arrived at Fats home to find a woman in tears talking to Anne, Fats’ wife. Solamalemalo went to the kitchen for a beer and a few minutes later, Fats rushed in and said “’Thank God it was not me that got that woman pregnant.’”
The Speaker of Parliament La’auliealemalietoa Leuatea Polataivao, a relative of Fats remembered him as a “le popole (no worries), le popoi kind of guy.”
The last time they met in person was a few weeks back and they spoke for seven hours.
“Our conversation covered all issues around the world and back to his disappointment of at not getting the Manu Samoa coaching job,” La’auli said.
They laughed and shared a lot before Fats started scolding the Speaker over the Manu Samoa coach issue and the Prime Minister not doing anything about it. The Speaker sidetracked him by pointing out the ad where the rugby legend encouraged people to drink beer while Uale Mai – 7’s hero – and other players are promoting healthy living.
La’auli said Fats’ golden moment was when he was appointed to coach the women’s rugby team, the Manusina.
He said the Prime Minister was in awe that Manusina was ranked fourth in the world even without recording a single win. Fats would boast of the ranking but he would just nod without referring to the stats, the Speaker said.
Laauli’s last memory of Fats was in a dream a few days ago. They spoke on the phone the night of the Melbourne Cup where Fats wanted to come into town and watch the race on television.
Sometime after, “I dreamt that Anne was giving a testimony to Fats life.”
He then sat down.
Lemalu Tate Simi, Samoa’s High Commissioner to Australia, gave the first eulogy this morning. Lemalu was the Manu Samoa manager to the 1991 World Cup and Fats was the captain.