Nelson’s Inoke Latu weighs in at 145kg. Photo: Jonty Dine.

Gentle giant eyeing Mako

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In 150 years of its history, Nelson RFC has never had a player on the books as big as Inoke Latu.

At a whopping 145kg, the man mountain has been making his sizeable presence felt in the Tasman Trophy this season and haunting the nightmares of opposition defences.

In fact, whether he is starting or on the bench, Inoke wears the number 23 jersey as it better fits his substantial frame.

To put his size in perspective, Tongan prop Ben Tameifuna is touted as the heaviest in test rugby at 153kg.

The 26-year-old spent last season playing for his home club Papatoetoe in Auckland but was lured back down south with the goal of cracking the Mako squad.

He previously played for Nelson from 2015-17, making the wider Mako squad before returning to Auckland.

Inoke sat on the bench for the Mako against Taranaki in 2015 but didn’t see any game time.

The experience has made him hungry for more ITM Cup action.

Though his size and power are obvious attributes, Inoke isn’t just a wrecking ball.

“That’s what they expect from me, so I try to use a bit of footwork.”

A powerful scrummager and defender, Inoke says Mako selectors have asked him to work on his fitness.

“It can be tough for me, but I just have to be wary about what I put in my body and get that oxygen in my legs.”

Nicknamed ‘Biggie,’ Inoke earned the appropriate moniker to help teammates avoid confusion with his brother, also named Inoke.

“When I first came down here it was with my little brother and we have the same name, so they called me ‘biggie’ and him ‘little’. ”

Off the footy field, Inoke works at Alliance Meatworks and religion is a big part of his life.

“I just want to make the most of the talent God has blessed me with.”

The softly-spoken prop wants to ultimately support his family back in Auckland through his rugby.

“My family has seen some struggles so helping them get a better life is a big driver for me.”