Ratu Salesi Liueli Ma'afu
- 839 Wallaby Number
A powerful front-row forward of both Fijian and Tongan heritage - his father George represented the ʻIkale Tahi - Salesi Ma’afu was also the first cousin of long-time Wallaby hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau. The Ma’afu boys all played rugby league for Balmain juniors but changed to the 15-a-side game because it was played on Saturdays and not the Sabbath. Salesi then climbed through the Sydney and NSW juniors ranks before he made his Super Rugby debut in 2007, for the ACT Brumbies against the Chiefs in Hamilton.
In 2009, Ma’afu was selected on the Wallabies’ end-of-season Spring Tour and while he did not make the Test side he played in the uncapped matches against Gloucester & Cardiff. The following year Salesi and his brother Campese made international rugby history when they became the first siblings to make their debuts for opposing countries in the same Test match. In 2011, he was a member of the third-placed Australian squad at the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand.
Ma’afu won his first Test cap as a starting tight head prop in the 49-3 victory over Fiji in Canberra. He would start the opening 10 Tests of the year but he missed selection during the end-of-season Spring Tour.
Ma’afu won his final four Test caps in 2011 and was selected in the 30-man Australian squad to his first Rugby World Cup.