Tributes have poured in for Wigan Warriors’ legendary centre Inga Tuigamala, who has died at the age of just 52.
The dual-code Samoa international became a fan’s favourite on the terraces of Central Park when he joined Wigan in 1993.
Tuigamala enjoyed five seasons with the Cherry and Whites, scoring 254 points in 102 appearances.
The Samoan won a Premiership, two Challenge Cups and a World Club Challenge with the club. He was also named in the 1996 Super League Dream Team.
Tuigamala represented his native Samoa in the 1995 Rugby League World Cup and in the 1999 Rugby Union World Cup. He played for New Zealand in the 1991 Rugby Union World Cup.
Tuigamala won 19 caps for the All Blacks in rugby union and 23 for Samoa. He won two caps for Samoa in rugby league.
The powerhouse centre enjoyed plenty of success in both codes. In rugby union, he made 126 appearances for Wasps and Newcastle Falcons, scoring 180 points.
Tributes pour in for Inga Tuigamala
Jason Robinson, Tuigamala’s team-mate at Wigan, tweeted: “Absolutely heartbroken. I owe so much to this amazing man. He literally helped change my life when he came to Wigan Warriors from NZ. Sending all my love and condolences to the family at such a sad time. RIP brother.”
Absolutely heartbroken!💔 I owe so much to this amazing man! Literally helped change my life when he came to @WiganWarriorsRL from NZ. Sending all my love and condolences to the family at such a sad time. RIP brother 😢🙏🏽 #Inga #VaigaTuigamala @Apollo11Rugby pic.twitter.com/uwyDgrXqRW
— Jason Robinson OBE (@Jason15Robinson) February 24, 2022
Apollo Perelini, who played alongside Tuigamala for Samoa RL, tweeted: “Saddest news to hear. We started primary school together and took our rugby journey to the UK – Saints for me and Wigan for you my brother. RIP my dearest brother, Inga (the winger) Tuigamala.”
Saddest news to hear. We started primary school together and took our rugby journey to the UK. @Saints1890 for me and @WiganWarriorsRL for you my brother. RiL my dearest brother Inga(the winger) Tuigamala @Jason15Robinson pic.twitter.com/4b84itDYYE
— Apollo Perelini (@Apollo11Rugby) February 24, 2022
Wigan executive director Kris Radlinski said: “Every now and then a player comes along who touches the heart and soul of every single fan, player, coach and administrator – Inga was one of them.
“He was one of the most exciting rugby players to play either code. His presence on the rugby field was huge. As a teenager, he gave me the most precious thing that anyone could, time. We would spend hours on the field doing one on one’s together. It is a very sad day for the club. Rest in peace my friend.”
Tuigamala was born in Faleasiu, Samoa and died in Auckland, New Zealand.
Nicknamed Inga the Winga, Tuigamala will be forever remembered as one of the greatest overseas players ever to grace the soil of British rugby league.