Keas Great Fiso Signs Off With ‘Sattler Moment’
Back in 2003, Penrith Panthers lock Scott Sattler etched his name into NRL folklore by chasing down Sydney Roosters winger Todd Byrne and bundling him into touch to turn the grand final.
Linwood Keas great Aga Fiso earned a similarly indelible place in the pantheon of Canterbury Rugby League grand final moments for an almost identical play in Sunday’s decider against Hornby Keas – in his last game before hanging up the boots.
Like Sattler’s iconic tackle, which provided the impetus for Penrith’s 18-6 upset of the Roosters after the scores were locked at 6-all, Fiso’s incredible chase and ankle-tap on Hornby winger Charlie Charlie was the decisive moment of the 2017 CRL grand final.
The Keas had fought back from a 12-point deficit to level the scores at 16-all when Charlie took an intercept near the Panthers’ 20-metre line and set off downfield. Big and fast, Charlie appeared tryline-bound…until Fiso entered the frame.
The 36-year-old back-rower showed trademark determination and remarkable pace to run down the flyer and take him to ground just on the Linwood’s side of halfway, as shown in the above photo by CMG Sport’s Kevin Clarke.
The Keas capitalised on Fiso’s momentum-turning play to post two tries in the dying minutes of the first half, before rumbling on to a convincing 34-20 victory courtesy of an ultra-committed second-half defensive display.
After hoisting the Pat Smith Trophy with co-captain Paul Sauni, modest hero Fiso admitted his try-saving effort had played a big part in swinging the grand final the Keas’ way.
“I think it was sort of the turning point, just that ‘never give up’ attitude,” Fiso said.
“I didn’t want to let the boys down, and I think if (Charlie) got through we would have struggled a bit.
“I just gave it (my) all, not for myself but what was best for my team. Our motto is 100 percent, and hopefully I left it all out there today.”
Veteran Linwood prop Alex Todd, who won the Mel Cooke Medal as man of the match for a typically non-stop display up front, was in awe of his long-time club and representative teammate.
“He’s an inspirational player, you know,” Todd said.
“A lot of guys look up to him and he’s going to be a massive loss next year.
“It’s unbelievable what he does on and off the field – he’s a true leader.”
The widely-respected Fiso, named Canterbury Rugby League sportsman of the year and Rockcote Canterbury Bulls’ MVP in 2015, said being a part of the first back-to-back grand final triumphs in the Keas’ history was the perfect way to finish his career.
“It’s a fairytale ending, I guess.
“The game could have gone either way … I couldn’t have asked for anything more.
“I think it just comes down to the brotherhood and the family that we’ve got, and I’ve been able to finish off on a good note so it’s been great.
“It definitely doesn’t feel real, just seeing everyone here – it’s overwhelming.
“I’m pretty emotional, and I guess it won’t sink in until everything has calmed down and reality kicks in and celebrations start kicking off.
“But I’m very grateful that I’m able to be a part of this, not just for Linwood but all the supporters in the rugby league community.
“It’s just great to see everyone out here and it’s an awesome feeling to finish off like that, with all the community here and the first (grand) final in the East, it’s great to see different faces here supporting the game.”
We may have seen the last of Agaese Fiso in the Linwood strip but, like Scotty Sattler 14 years ago, the local legend provided one last lifelong memory for the Canterbury Rugby League’s premiership narrative.
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Photos: Kevin Clarke – CMG Sport