- 851Wallaby Number
Born and raised in Tonga, Sitaleki Timani grew up with the ambition of playing goalkeeper for the Tongan national football team. The middle brother of three rugby internationals - the elder, Sione, represented Tonga while the younger, Lopeti, also played for Australia - the giant, abrasive lock had never even seen a game of union until he watched the 2003 Rugby World Cup final at age 17.
Timani played his first rugby at Liahona High School where his talent was quickly recognised and selection for Tongan Schools came soon thereafter. He then won a scholarship to attend Auckland Grammar but missed out on being picked for New Zealand Schools and decided to move to Australia. He was somewhat forced to switch codes, due to rugby’s eligibility criteria, and played in the lower grades with the Cronulla Sharks.
Timani made his way back to rugby union when selected for the Perth Spirit in the now defunct Australian Rugby Championship of 2007 which then led to a contract with the Western Force. He made his debut for the Force in 2008 but only managed to earn three caps. As a consequence he accepted an offer to move to the Brumbies in 2009 where he stayed for two years.
In 2011, Timani found himself in Sydney with a NSW Waratahs development contract, enjoyed a breakthrough season, and made his Test debut against Samoa in Sydney. The eighteen times capped Wallaby cut ties with Australian Rugby at the end of 2013 when he signed a three year deal with French club Montpellier.
Timani won his first Test cap as a starting lock in the 23-32 loss to Samoa in Sydney.
He won nine caps throughout the year, all in the run-on XV, with eight coming at lock and one - against Argentina in Rosario - as a blindside flanker.
A broken thumb ruled Timani out of the home series against the British & Irish Lions as well as the first half of the Rugby Championship. He returned to win another eight caps, six of which came off the bench.