IT didn’t end the way he would have wished, but Parkes Boars legend Heamani Lavaka still left a rugby union field for the last time a satisfied man on Saturday.
The former Tongan international was on the wrong end of a 32-16 scoreline against Orange City Lions in the Blowes Clothing Cup first grade grand final on Saturday.
But, standing on the Pride Park playing surface surrounded by a seemingly endless supply of smiling children, the Boars coach couldn’t complain.
“I am retiring and it’s not good to go out on a loss, but I am still very proud,” he said.
“I’m proud of my boys for their effort today and this season, as well as for my time in rugby.”
Lavaka’s Orange City counterpart Andy Hillan paid tribute to the Central West icon.
“He’s a tough nut with all the tricks,” Hillan said.
“He’s hard to counteract, especially in the scrums.”
Hillan noted Lavaka had earned the competition’s respect on and off the field, using his time in Central West representative teams to impart his international experience and knowledge to club rivals.
Chronic injuries, especially in his knees, have finally caught up with the decorated front-rower.
But he’ll hang up his boots satisfied the club he’s dedicated the back end of his career to is in a strong position to push for future glory.
“We have been trying to rebuild this club for a long time and it has worked,” Lavaka said.
“We are now a strong club, a club which has played for and won grand finals.
“There is a lot of good young players here and we have good years ahead.”