The Wellington Lions will celebrate the side's alumni when they take on Northland in their Mitre 10 Cup match at Westpac Stadium on Saturday. Hundreds of players have helped shape the history of the union and here are just a select few from the 1990s and 2000s:
JASON O’HALLORAN 1993-2001 MIDFIELDER 95 MATCHES
One of the most respected midfielders in New Zealand through the 1990s, O’Halloran deservedly received a test cap in 2000. He often captained Wellington, and the Hurricanes, during his nine seasons in the capital. O’Halloran was a member of the Wellington side which won the 2000 NPC title. After coaching in Japan and back in New Zealand with Manawatu, he shifted to Scotland where he was assistant coach for the national side.
SHANNON PAKU 2000-2007 UTILITY BACK 64 MATCHES
A player who could cover fullback, wing and centre, Paku went on to represent the Maori All Blacks in 2006. Paku was a regular fixture for the Hurricanes across several seasons and made 50 appearances while he also played for the Blues. After leaving New Zealand to play in France, Paku returned and is now chief executive for Manawatu Rugby.
JON PRESTON 1993-1998 HALFBACK/FIRST FIVE 72 MATCHES
Considered one of the most intelligent footballers of his generation, Preston was equally adept at halfback of first five-eighth. Preston had an excellent kicking game, both tactically and at goal. He represented the All Blacks from 1991 to 1997 and was a foundation player at the Hurricanes. His playing career ended at Bath in England. Preston also became a popular commentator.
RODNEY SO’OIALA 2000-2009 NO 8 64 MATCHES
One of the most popular players with fans across the capital, So’oiala managed 64 matches for the Lions despite being heavily involved with the All Blacks across a distinguished career. He was also one of the earliest players to reach 100 Super Rugby appearances for the Hurricanes. Post his New Zealand career, So’oiala moved to Japan to play. On his return to he was an assistant coach at the Lions in 2017.
TANA UMAGA 1994-2007 UTILITY BACK 100 MATCHES
One of the most dangerous wings in world rugby, Umaga became equally lethal when he switched into the midfield. The first Pacific Island player to captain the All Blacks, Umaga is the only player to reach 100 appearances for the Hurricanes and Wellington. After seeing out his playing career in France, Umaga quickly became a coach. When he returned to New Zealand he coached Counties Manukau before he was appointed Blues coach.