Player Manu Vatuvei

bruce

Contributor
I'll always be grateful for the joyful memories he gave me as a footy player. His 226 games for the club can never be taken away. Nor his club record setting 152 tries which is unlikely to ever be beaten. He will always be Warrior #115. But I am no longer a fan.
I think still in the top 10 of the NSWRL/NRL comp.

That is an amazing achievement and is his, he earned it...but life goes on and you are only as good as your last game as they say.

There was an All Black great, Don Clarke. he was also a world class great. he was also a serious cheat at everything else he did, especially golf, but he was also a small time shoplifter.

Because of who he was people let him get away with it, until one day on the North Shore one supermarket thought F..... U ...it was only a 70 cents packet of plasters but they got him charged. A big Court Case followed and the prick was dismissed without conviction.

Poor Don, left sobbing from the dock. he moved to South Africa later and never came back. I think the golf club might have got in on the act as well.

A fantastic rugby player, a genuine GOAT, otherwise just a prick.


Rant over.
 
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bruce

Contributor

Manu Vatuvei meth case: 'Calamity of events' blamed for downfall from stardom to prison​

From the outside looking in, Manu Vatuvei seemed to be leading a charmed life in 2019.

The Auckland-based rugby league star had retired from the Warriors two years earlier after a lengthy run as one of the team's most recognisable names and had parlayed that celebrity status into a successful run on TV series Dancing with the Stars.

But what few outside his inner circle knew was that his life had fallen into disarray, a judge acknowledged on Wednesday as Vatuvei was sent to prison for his role in a methamphetamine importation scheme that saw the drug shipped to New Zealand from around the world in innocuous-seeming items such as jump ropes.

Vatuvei said nothing as he was led out of the Manukau District Court to begin serving his three years and seven months' sentence, but Judge Jonathan Moses offered him some words of encouragement.

"Your fall from grace is a punishment in itself," Moses acknowledged, pointing out that until recently Vatuvei had been a role model to many - especially Pasifika youth.

"Your final legacy in this community does not have to be defined by what has happened today. When you are released, you will still have a lot of your life to live."

Prime time to amateur hour​

Although it wouldn't be known until a year-and-a-half later due to a lengthy name suppression battle, Vatuvei was one of four people arrested in November 2019 following a joint police and Customs investigation dubbed Operation Clydesdale.

Vatuvei was described by authorities as second-in-command under his older brother, 49-year-old Lopini Lautau Mafi. Also appearing before Judge Moses on Wednesday, Mafi received a sentence of seven years and two months - twice that of his brother.

Lawyers for both brothers agreed Mafi was the leader of the operation, but they downplayed its significance as "amateurish".

"Frankly ... the syndicate was not sophisticated whatsoever," Steven Lack told the judge, explaining that his client Mafi used addresses and phone numbers that were easily traced back to him and communicated via WhatsApp texts, which authorities were able to easily retrieve.

Lack also referred to a video recovered by police that showed both brothers unpackaging methamphetamine packets hidden among hair accessories in a package from India. The video was kept on Mafi's phone and the two made no attempts to mask their identity, he pointed out, noting that multiple packages were intercepted by Customs.

"There was no evidence of significant financial gain on Mr Mafi's behalf," Lack said.

Judge Moses partially agreed. While the operation was relatively unsophisticated, it was by no means minor, he said, pointing out that the crew was able to import at least 2kg of methamphetamine, and likely "a great deal more" that wasn't ever recovered.

Both brothers faced a maximum possible sentence of life in prison for the charges they pleaded guilty to.

A dark place​

By the time Vatuvei joined the operation, he was staying in the home he had bought for his parents - "self-medicating" with drugs and alcohol, lawyer Vivienne Feyen said, as his marriage was on the rocks.

For the first time, the recent setbacks in his life - an injury resulting in the end of his stellar league career, a brain cyst that ended his attempt at a post-Warriors boxing career after just one fight, marriage troubles and malaise about what to do with the rest of his life - had started to mount, she said.

"We have a situation where from 2002 upwards to 2017 he'd spent his life in a very structured environment," she said of his Warriors career, adding that Vatuvei had received "guidance and support" from the team since the age of 16.

"It is apparent that he was ill-equipped to make these fundamental life transitions [after retirement]. That goes to the heart of his decision-making process, his reasoning."

Fifteen prior years of good judgment and avoidance of drugs had given way to a "calamity of events and emotional trauma" that resulted in him being "in a very black spot", she said, adding that it impaired his reasoning.

That is the context, she said, in which he decided to step in and help out his brother - who also lived in their parents' house - with his criminal enterprise.

It was a feeling of familial obligation, not profit, that led him down the wrong path, she suggested.

Prosecutors said Vatuvei first became involved in August and September 2019, when his brother spent time in jail on an unrelated charge. He continued to play a role after his brother was hospitalised.

Mafi, meanwhile, was described in reports provided to the judge as having been addicted to methamphetamine before he started importing it. The addiction reportedly started, the judge noted, after a surgery that left him in significant pain and discomfort.

"It does appear that your upbringing had been marred by both physical and other abuse," the judge noted, adding that Mafi "took solace in gangs at a young age" and later turned to drugs.

Moses noted that Vatuvei had long looked up to his older brother.

"I am prepared to accept that your primary motivation was to assist your brother, who was in hospital at the time," he said.

But Vatuvei likely would have known the scale of the importation operation and he would have expected financial gain at some point, Moses said.

"I accept that [recent life setbacks] had left you in a dark place," the judge also said.

The evidence​

Court documents state Vatuvei was directly involved in two of the imports - including a package labelled "sporting kits" that instead contained 487g of methamphetamine concealed inside skipping rope handles.

The other package, authorities said, wasn't ever intercepted.

Documents also outline other instances in which the sporting star was mentioned.

One such shipment, labelled "import 4", involved 1.7kg of methamphetamine concealed inside a suitcase sent from South Africa. It was intercepted on October 9, 2019.

Vatuvei called DHL from his own mobile phone inquiring about the package, and at one point his brother also came on the line, authorities alleged.

"Import 7", from Africa, was delivered two weeks later to a Manurewa address that Vatuvei "has links to", with his mobile phone data showing he visited a neighbouring home nine days earlier, documents state.

Less than an hour before the delivery, Vatuvei had been on the phone with another co-defendant, authorities reported. After talking for just over one minute, Vatuvei texted him the address where the package would soon arrive.

"Take home don't open k let me know when your there," he texted immediately thereafter.

After confirming the package was retrieved, Vatuvei typed: "Lesssgooooo once I'm done here I'll come down and then we can open it up sweet."

The co-defendant typed back: "Nothing moves without you."

In a text to another associate late that night, Vatuvei wrote: "just packed some stuff up but yeah you want me to bring you that bad stuff to check it properly".

But it was "import 8" - the skipping ropes from India - that eventually resulted in the brothers' arrests.

The package was set to be delivered to a Papatoetoe home neighbouring where Vatuvei and Mafi lived with their parents. Customs intercepted the package and removed most of the 487g of methamphetamine, replacing it with a look-alike, before conducting an undercover sting on November 28.

Officers added a "chemical marking powder" that would show up on anyone who handled the package, then a Customs officer posing as a delivery driver took it to the marked address.

Mafi met the courier driver outside and signed for it, and he along with Vatuvei opened the package just a few minutes later, according to the court documents.

Authorities executed a search warrant within 15 minutes of the delivery, and both brothers were arrested. Both were found to have tracking powder on their clothes and hands.

Vatuvei exercised his right to remain silent.

Mana​

Vatuvei wasn't the leader of the small syndicate but he did play "an operational and management role", Crown prosecutor Jessica Pridgeon said, adding that the celebrity's significant amount of "mana given his career" played a part in at least one of the alleged underlings participating in the scheme.

She asked that both brothers' sentences serve as a deterrent and a denunciation.

"There are very few crimes that carry a maximum penalty of life imprisonment," she said. "That's because of the significant social harm this crime causes to our society.

Lawyers for both brothers emphasised their clients' remorse to Judge Moses.

Vatvuvei's lawyer acknowledged the stark difference between his days as a beloved celebrity and now.

"Disgrace, I think, is an appropriate word," Feyen. "He has fallen from grace - not a little but a long way."

Mafi looked down at his lap for much of his sentencing, including when his lawyer acknowledged it was him who played the leading role in the syndicate. But the older brother, who attended via an audio-video feed due to Covid-19 restrictions at the courthouse, could be seen pacing after Judge Moses began discussing how much prison time Vatuvei should serve.

"It's no secret that Mr Mafi is very regretful for the position he has put his family in - particularly his brother," his lawyer said. "That is something he will have to deal with for the rest of his life."

Just another entitled prick developed from the professional sporting scene.

Compare that with Stacy and Awen when their manager lost them megabucks on investments...or SK not getting paid a years salary when the club went broke...

nah...the dude has a serious attitude problem and it seems more obvious now why he as leading the young bros astray when he was playing...


will he learn from this mistake...probably not...it will all be somebody else's fault.
 
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Beastmode

There’s always next year.
Contributor
Again, not condoning it but in the end a weak personality showed through, he took the easy road and is paying dearly.
Can you clarify what you mean by weak?

He comes across as someone who is anything but weak, and his actions speaks louder than words.
 
Can you clarify what you mean by weak?

He comes across as someone who is anything but weak, and his actions speaks louder than words.
Not weak physically. But he capitulated to the peer pressure of others. Chose the easy path. Shortcuts to riches. A mentally stronger personal would have not got in the position he did from such an advantaged position post career.

As I said, I understand how it happened with the break down of the constants in his life (career, partner, etc) and it would have been hard when the only constant left to support him was his criminal family.
 
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What a fall from grace

The thing that really breaks my heart is that Vatuvei has gone from being a genuine inspiration to many in the Southside, especially Otara, to just another cautionary tale

I was a massive Manu Vatuvei fan & have had many a debate with forum members over the years about his greatness/weaknesses, place in RL history etc

But as much as I loved the man as a player he has completely lost me with this shit

And now instead of viewing him as a genuine inspiration, I view him as just another stupid greedy Southside wannabe who rolled the dice & crapped out as most of them do

As a someone who spends a lot of time in Otara I can reasonably say that even when Vatuvei's done his lag he will never really be able to show his face without shame & judgement in Otara ever again ... they look past & forgive a lotta shit ... but meth is a genuine scourge in that community & for someone in Vatuvei's position to do what he's done is all but unforgivable
 
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What a fall from grace

The thing that really breaks my heart is that Vatuvei has gone from being a genuine inspiration to many in the Southside, especially Otara, to just another cautionary tale

I was a massive Manu Vatuvei fan & have has many a debate with forum members over the years about his greatness/weaknesses, place in RL history etc

But as much as I loved the man as a player he has completely lost me with this shit

And now instead of viewing him as a genuine inspiration, I view him as just another stupid greedy Southside wannabe who rolled the dice & crapped out as most of them do

As a someone who spends a lot of time in Otara I can reasonably say that even when Vatuvei's done his lag he will never really be able to show his face without shame & judgement in Otara ever again ... they look past & forgive a lotta shit ... but meth is a genuine scourge in that community & for someone in Vatuvei's position to do what he's done is all but unforgivable
If he finds Jesus (I know he knows who Jesus is) he will be forgiven by the community, especially if he devotes his life to outreach....drug prevention etc.

There are always paths to come back from the sins of man within reason.

Or he goes into the banger life, then he won't have to care too much about what people think outside of his circle.

All I know from reading some comments (not this quoted post) is that some people are under the misconception that he got off lightly.

He got the minimum sentence for importation. Which is correct for a first time offender whose character is somewhat public and therefore known to be formerly a stable law abiding citizen.

But three years seven months Is not a light sentence, it is a medium sentence.

It is a long time in Jail. People seem to think you go to jail, it is straight forward and comfortable, and you come out and forget about it.

No, you go to jail, and unless you are institutionalized, it is hell.

Every single day is a living hell, and a torment.

Then you do one year of it, and you want to kill yourself because you got twice as long plus seven months still to go.

Then you come out and you can never look at people the same way, you sit with your back to walls, you guard your plate with your forearm and at night you fight in your sleep and yell out.

But the most haunting thing about jail, is that for the rest of your life, you fear going back.

You are never free in your mind ever again.

And that's just a normal lag, not a lag where you get raped or stabbed.

His companions will be killers and maniacs, it's no joke.....everyone is scamming and sussing you out to take advantage.

People behave like animals, you see some horrific shit and it always explodes out of nowhere.

He will be finding out what psycho is the KP of his block about now if he is in general population.

The other thing he will have to learn is the most unlikely looking little guys sometimes can scrap like hell and you don't EVER want to underestimate anyone in there, I've seen people with names like Rupert go toe to toe with trained fighters and take every shot flush while throwing straight hard shots down the middle and just not even staggering under some sickening shots....already brain damaged....you look at their file and they have been taking beatings since they were in the orphanage.


Quite honestly he has been sentenced to three years and seven months of paranoia and fear.

And then a life of being wary.

Most of us in our own lives, if we think about it know that guy who did time and was never the same.

That's a high cost.
 
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Dixpat

In Andy we (have to) trust
Contributor
If he finds Jesus (I know he knows who Jesus is) he will be forgiven by the community, especially if he devotes his life to outreach....drug prevention etc.

There are always paths to come back from the sins of man within reason.

Or he goes into the banger life, then he won't have to care too much about what people think outside of his circle.

All I know from reading some comments (not this quoted post) is that some people are under the misconception that he got off lightly.

He got the minimum sentence for importation. Which is correct for a first time offender whose character is somewhat public and therefore known to be formerly a stable law abiding citizen.

But three years seven months Is not a light sentence, it is a medium sentence.

It is a long time in Jail. People seem to think you go to jail, it is straight forward and comfortable, and you come out and forget about it.

No, you go to jail, and unless you are institutionalized, it is hell.

Every single day is a living hell, and a torment.

Then you do one year of it, and you want to kill yourself because you got twice as long plus seven months still to go.

Then you come out and you can never look at people the same way, you sit with your back to walls, you guard your plate with your forearm and at night you fight in your sleep and yell out.

But the most haunting thing about jail, is that for the rest of your life, you fear going back.

You are never free in your mind ever again.

And that's just a normal lag, not a lag where you get raped or stabbed.

His companions will be killers and maniacs, it's no joke.....everyone is scamming and sussing you out to take advantage.

People behave like animals, you see some horrific shit and it always explodes out of nowhere.

He will be finding out what psycho is the KP of his block about now if he is in general population.

The other thing he will have to learn is the most unlikely looking little guys sometimes can scrap like hell and you don't EVER want to underestimate anyone in there, I've seen people with names like Rupert go toe to toe with trained fighters and take every shot flush while throwing straight hard shots down the middle and just not even staggering under some sickening shots....already brain damaged....you look at their file and they have been taking beatings since they were in the orphanage.


Quite honestly he has been sentenced to three years and seven months of paranoia and fear.

And then a life of being wary.

Most of us in our own lives, if we think about it know that guy who did time and was never the same.

That's a high cost.
My understanding is that if you behave yourself you only serve around 2/3rds of your sentence
 
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My understanding is that if you behave yourself you only serve around 2/3rds of your sentence

He could do.

It depends on three things, his sentencing judges ruling.....the prison file collated by the staff, and then the mood of the Parole board.


Then there is the inmates, if he gets stepped out by some wannabe it is better to do your full lag and cop the fighting charge than be broken arse in Jail.

I obviously dunno what circles he was moving in/whether he has connections to someone like the heads where no one will fk with him....but he will have to pay for that protection, nothing is free....and there is the mind fk right there.
 
He could do.

It depends on three things, his sentencing judges ruling.....the prison file collated by the staff, and then the mood of the Parole board.


Then there is the inmates, if he gets stepped out by some wannabe it is better to do your full lag and cop the fighting charge than be broken arse in Jail.

I obviously dunno what circles he was moving in/whether he has connections to someone like the heads where no one will fk with him....but he will have to pay for that protection, nothing is free....and there is the mind fk right there.
Recently found out a workmate grew up around the family. The older brother's been connected with gangs since a Youngin. If he's genuinely remorseful about dragging him into this he'd keep him protected and tell manu to keep his head down and do his time.
 

Citygirl

Contributor
Who knew Red Bull and Zopiclones were a gateway drug? I was even more disappointed to see him having a ciggie outside the courtroom just before sentencing. How the hell do you start smoking in your 30s after being a professional athlete for over 15 years???
Funny (or not funny) you mention him smoking. I was up in Auckland 3 or 4 years ago I spose, probably for a Warriors game, and I saw him early one morning near sky city, must have been around 9am and he was with some guys and he was smoking then. I was shocked. I remember thinking, wtf are you doing.
 
I have been in Parry, I wouldn't want to spend one bloody night in there.

I had a really good mate who did 17 years in there. He will never ever get over it.

Just a jungle.
The buildings are impossible to describe hey Bruce. They look nothing like anything you have ever seen anywhere on any TV or movie in your life.
Not even building shaped. Imagine giant concrete egg cartons with human beings inside.

The entrance to the blocks is exactly like a concentration camp.

Even if you are working there the check in is formal so no 'hey come in' from your mate over the intercom. You get psyched out before you get our of your car!

It is a shit hole like nowhere in this country even by world standards it is harsh.
 

bruce

Contributor
The buildings are impossible to describe hey Bruce. They look nothing like anything you have ever seen anywhere on any TV or movie in your life.
Not even building shaped. Imagine giant concrete egg cartons with human beings inside.

The entrance to the blocks is exactly like a concentration camp.

Even if you are working there the check in is formal so no 'hey come in' from your mate over the intercom. You get psyched out before you get our of your car!

It is a shit hole like nowhere in this country even by world standards it is harsh.
I was there decades ago when it was still new.

At that stage nobody had ever escaped. I said to my mate, somebody will get out, they have stuff all else to think about, somebody will work a way out. A few months later somebody did just that.

I would have trouble even working there, horrible environment. I spent some time talking to the then boss, Jack Hobson, I think his name was. I found him a genuine human.

At that time an MP was complaining in Parliament that prisoners were having sex in the visiting room.

Jack publicly denied that, merely said some were doing heavy petting🤣🤣. Jack said to me that having sex with their girlfriends while visiting was the least he could do to make their lives easier.

When will governments ever learn that there has to be a better way?
 
I was there decades ago when it was still new.

At that stage nobody had ever escaped. I said to my mate, somebody will get out, they have stuff all else to think about, somebody will work a way out. A few months later somebody did just that.

I would have trouble even working there, horrible environment. I spent some time talking to the then boss, Jack Hobson, I think his name was. I found him a genuine human.

At that time an MP was complaining in Parliament that prisoners were having sex in the visiting room.

Jack publicly denied that, merely said some were doing heavy petting🤣🤣. Jack said to me that having sex with their girlfriends while visiting was the least he could do to make their lives easier.

When will governments ever learn that there has to be a better way?
I'll never forget doing the tour of the Fremantle Prison when I was living over in Perth - that place gave me the creeps long after it'd stopped being used as an actual prison.
 

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