The LA Giltinis has Mahe Vailanu back for the second year of his contract which is through the 2022 Major League Rugby season. The 25-year-old hooker/flanker is 5’10” and 236 lbs.
Mahe played 663 minutes in 12 matches, starting 11, and scoring 2 tries for the Giltinis in 2021.
Mahe recently was named the 2020 Ken Catchpole Winner for the best and fairest player (MVP) in the Shute Shield, Australia’s premier club rugby competition. His team, Gordon, won the championship, which was coached by the new LA Giltinis head coach, Darren Coleman.
Mahe is from Kolovai, Tongatapu, Tonga. He has had an unusual journey in his development as a person and as a rugby player.
In the latest edition of My Rise in My Words, Vailanu tells us his story. “I had to grow up quickly when my parents went on holiday and never returned. When I was about 12 years old I was raised by my older sister and grandmother in Tonga after my parents came to Melbourne on holiday for three months and decided to stay after they fell in love with the city. It was tough, for the first year I couldn’t do anything because I missed my parents but in my second year I got used to it and my friends helped me a lot.
The article went on to say that he played rugby with Tonga U14s, which toured New Zealand, including a game against Auckland Grammar School. This resulted in a scholarship to attend the school in Auckland and he moved in with his aunt and uncle. As a 15-year old he played scrumhalf, then flyhalf, before moving to hooker.
In 2016 he moved to Melbourne, Australia to continue his rugby development and to be near his parents. He played for Harlequin Rugby Melbourne for the Quins Rebels U20s in the new Australian Super 20s program. In 2017 he was part of the Melbourne Rebels U20s, as well as the Rebels’ Emerging Players Program. He also played with the Harlequins in the BLK Dewar Shield Premiership.
In 2017 he joined Melbourne Rising in the National Rugby Championship as a back-row instead of his favored hooker position. In 2018 he moved to Warringah, coached by current Giltinis head coach Darren Coleman and then to Gordon the following two years, joining Coleman.
In 2018, he played with the Melbourne Rebels in the Global Tens competition and made two Super Rugby appearances as a replacement against the Waratahs on 18 March 2018 and on 23 March against the Sharks. He also played with the NSW Country Eagles in 2018.
In 2019 Mahe played with Melbourne Rising in the NRC and joined the Panasonic Wild Knights, a Japanese rugby union team based in Ōta city, Gunma prefecture, which plays in the Top League.