THE BIG O - THE LIFE AND TIMES OF OLSEN FILIPAINA
The Big O by Patrick Skene is the story of Olsen Filipaina, a New Zealand Hall of Fame rugby league legend who was a pathfinder for the Maori and Pasifika players who today dominate the Australian National Rugby League.
In a career that saw him play 29 Tests for New Zealand and more than 100 first grade NSWRL games, Filipaina was an object of fascination for the rugby league community.
To fans he was "the Galloping Garbo", a working-class hero who thrilled crowds in between shifts as a garbageman. To opponents, who feared his Polynesian power game, he was The Big O. To coaches and critics, he was simply "Olsen the enigma". Featured in the book are some of the pivotal figures of 1980s Australia and New Zealand sport including Sir Graham Lowe, Arthur Beetson, Roy Masters, Sir Peter Leitch, David Tua, Sir Bryan Williams, Wayne Pearce, Sir Michael Jones, John Ribot, Mark Graham, David Lange and NRL Immortal Wally Lewis who for the first time opens up about being outplayed by Filipaina in the 1985 Test series.
The Big O tracks Olsen's story from his rise out of working-class South Auckland, to overcoming depression, racism and cultural dislocation in Sydney, to the Cinderella story of his success for the New Zealand Kiwis. Forty years after Filipaina burst into Australian rugby league,
Skene relates the tale of a humble and principled man, a dynamic and magical pioneer of the 'Pacific Revolution'. The Big O' is a timely story of resilience, redemption, bravery and love.
To understand Olsen's story is to understand the cultural changes that have reshaped the game of rugby league.
Fox League Live talks with the author Patrick Skene below
Sir Graham Lowe, KNZM, QSM - ‘‘... Young Maori and Polynesians owe much to Olsen, because he was the pioneer in the game he loved. He personally opened the giant Polynesian sporting talent box that has allowed many since him to enjoy the rewards of playing professional sport.
I think author Patrick Skene has done a remarkable job of capturing not only Olsen Filipaina’s great personal story, but also, the dark and shameful ingredients that are sometimes reflected in our society that no human should be forced to endure. This all adds up to make Olsen’s journey before Rugby League, through Rugby League and beyond, awe inspiring.
I thank Patrick Skene on behalf of everyone who has ever witnessed or believed in the sheer magic and natural sporting talent these wonderful people known as Polynesians, are capable of displaying ...’’
Frank Puletua, NRL Head of Pacific Programs, Former NRL & Samoa player - ‘'Great work Patrick Skene! What an amazing story of courage and resilience – a true trailblazer for Pasifika players in the game.’’
Check out the NRL Legend Q&A with Olsen here
List below of bookstores stocking the book in the Auckland and click here for where you can buy a copy in both New Zealand and Australia