I spoke to Solomon Haumono in 2005 for the first issue of Thirteen.
Haumono burst on to the rugby league scene playing for Manly during the 1994 season where he made a considerable impact from the substitutes bench. The powerful Tongan quickly became a feared opponent with his hard-hitting defence and he was proved difficult to contain in attack as well. In 1995 Haumono played in the Winfield Cup Grand Final and represented Tonga in the World Cup where he continued to impress at international level.
When Super League in Australia started in 1997, Haumono was signed by Canterbury Bulldogs and his early-season form warranted his selection in the New South Wales side for the Tri-Series tournament with Queensland and New Zealand, where he excelled in particular in the opening match, before making the Australian team against the Kiwis. During the season, Haumono produced some memorable big hits as his reputation continued to rise.
After the ARL and Super League joined forces in 1998, Haumono joined Balmain Tigers where he battled injury before switching to St George. After an unhappy stay at the Dragons, Haumono took time out of the game in 2000 and pursued his other great love of boxing.
Always a fitness fanatic and a great athlete, Haumono was ideally suited to bxing, the sport in which his father,Maile,was the Tongan champion, and he enjoyed some great successes becoming Australian Heavyweight champion.
Returning to rugby league in 2003, Solomon rejoined Manly and once again established himself in the NRL with some more powerhouse displays. Now a much more mature player, Haumono shocked the Sea Eagles by accepting an offer from London Broncos where his consistent displays have made him a vital player in the Broncos charge to the Super League play-offs.
Date of Birth: 13 October 1975
Height: 6ft 2ins
Weight: 17st 6lbs (112kg)
Position: Second Row
Joined Broncos: 2005
Solomon, how’s life in London?
Yeah, really good. I love it here in the capital and I’m just trying to do my thing on the field as well.
Is it easy to settle into a new country and a city like London?
Yeah I’m here with my family and we’ve adapted. It took a while to get used to the weather at first and it’s a much busier place than what we’re used to!
1995 was a big year for you. What are your memories of the ARL Grand Final and representing Tonga in the World Cup?
Losing to Canterbury was disappointing but the opportunity to come over here for the first time for the World Cup was a really good experience. The game against New Zealand stands out the most but we fell away at the end after leading 24-12. New Zealand went for the full 80 minutes and got the victory late on. That’s what happens mate.
What about your boxing career?
Boxing was a good experience for me and I really enjoyed it but I’m just concentrating on my rugby league now.
How tough was the return to league?
The transition wasn’t too bad but my physique had changed. I had my general fitness but not the muscle mass. At first I couldn’t break the line and my tackles weren’t as effective as they had been. The game had also got a bit quicker since I’d last played.
What are the main differences between NRL and the English Super League?
There’s more emphasis on the smaller things in the NRL and it’s quicker but not necessarily more intense. There’s things at the play the ball here that you couldn’t get away with over there but the toughness is definitely here.
How do you think Anthony Mundine will go if he returns to rugby league?
I have no doubts about that man. He’s a close mate and a family friend. I believe in him and I don’t doubt he can do anything he puts his mind to. He’s just an all round sportsman.
Your fathers, Maile and Tony, sparred together didn’t they?
Yeah dd was a champion and so was Tony. They came up in the same gym and we were just toddlers then and that’s how the families started their friendship.
Would you make yourself available for the proposed full scale test match between Tonga and Samoa later this year?
I’d definitely love to put the red and white on again! It’s inside me and the opportunity would be great.