Taufa'ao Filise: Oldest player in Pro14 ready for final season

By Gareth GriffithsBBC Wales Sport
Taufa'ao Filise in action for Cardiff Blues against Pau
Taufa'ao Filise has scored nine tries for the Blues

Cardiff Blues prop Taufa'ao Filise admits 40 is too old for modern rugby, but won't let it stop him enjoying one more season in the top flight.

The Tonga international was already the oldest player to have pulled on a shirt in the Pro12 (Now Pro14) before accepting a new one year contract with the Wales region.

He should overtake Brad Thorn's Aviva Premiership age record of 40 years and 109 days during the season, making him the oldest top-flight professional player in British rugby history.

"I am happy with my contract and I think I have one last year," said Filise, before adding "But this is the last one, 40 is too old for this game!"

Filise was born in Malapo, Tonga, on 26 May 1977 during the final years of Welsh rugby's golden era.

After growing up in Tonga, he joined the Bay of Plenty in New Zealand and later the Auckland Blues Super Rugby side, where he played alongside former Cardiff Blues number eight Xavier Rush.

Brad Thorn splashes water on his face during a break in play for the Leicester Tigers
Brad Thorn won the World Cup, Super Rugby title and Heineken Cup in his career

His 29 Tonga appearances included the 2007 and 2011 Rugby World Cups before concentrating on the final part of his career in Wales.

Filise has made a record 241 appearances for the Blues since his arrival from Bath in 2006, but he says his age doesn't cross his mind.

"I didn't think about getting to 40, I just kept going every year," said Filise.

"I feel my body is still fit. I have been fortunate on the injury front. I am just training harder and looking after the body. I still feel fresh to go."

Front row with miles on the clock

Age is clearly not an issue for Blues coach Danny Wilson either, with Filise's front-row colleague Matthew Rees - a relative novice at merely 36 - also among six players accepting contract extensions at the region.

With prop and captain Gethin Jenkins also 36, this particular regional front-row will have a combined age of 112.

Jenkins is recovering from minor knee surgery in the summer and will miss the start of the campaign but could soon be reunited with Filise and Rees.

"I feel as if I am the same age (as Jenkins and Rees)," added Filise.

"The young Blues props are also full of energy, but I try to compete with them.

"I try and look after them because they are the future for the region. I am happy to be playing with them and know they are strong."

Praise from coach Wilson

Wilson insists Filise has earned his new contract on merit after a powerful end to the season typified by his outstanding performance against the Ospreys at Judgement Day at the Principality Stadium.

"He is still doing a great job and playing well," said Wilson.

"He is our most consistent scrummaging tight-head.

Taufa'ao Filise, Matthew Rees and Gethin Jenkins pack down together during a Cardiff Blues training session
Cardiff Blues front row of Taufa'ao Filise, Matthew Rees and Gethin Jenkins will have a combined age of 112 when they pack down together

"In some of the big high speed intensity games towards the end of last season he delivered really good performances.

"We manage him in a certain way and make sure training-wise he does the required amount and no more.

"He is in great nick and still making the test scores that are relevant to be a professional rugby player at this level.

"He is a popular man in the squad and another part of his role is to impart that knowledge to some of those young props coming through our system."

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