Blockbusting No. 8 turned wing Roy Kinikinilau was a star for the New Zealand Sevens team for five years, while also spending three seasons in Super rugby playing for three separate franchises, the Hurricanes, the Highlanders and the Chiefs.
Kinikinilau first burst on to the international rugby scene in 2002 and 2003, when he scored 37 tries in seven IRB tournaments over that period, including playing a starring role in his home Sevens event in Wellington early in 2003.
Sevens proved the perfect game for Kinikinilau, who matches explosive speed, power and vision to his game. This didn’t go unnoticed by the fifteen aficionados either, subsequently playing his way into the 2004 Hurricanes with an eye-catching 2003 NPC season on the wing for the Vodafone Wellington Lions. Highlights included scoring a crucial try in their 30-29 semi-final win over his future Waikato teamamtes.
With Lome Fa’atau and Hosea Gear preferred ahead of him in 2005, Kinikinilau reacquainted himself with Sevens, before playing a full season with the Highlanders in 2006. This was followed by a provincial move from Wellington to Waikato, whom he won the inaugural Air New Zealand Cup with. He played for the Chiefs in 2007, scoring a hat trick against the Western Force, and in May 2007 answered the call for another Sevens campaign, helping the team to win the IRB Sevens title again in June 2007.
Born in Tonga, Kinikinilau came to New Zealand when he was six. He played all his early rugby at No. 8 and was the outstanding player in Wellington club rugby in 2002 for his Oriental-Rongotai club, before switching to the wing in a move that echoed another famous Tongan forward transplant, Jonah Lomu.
Kinikinilau transferred to Japan following the 2007 Air New Zealand Cup. In 2009 he was playing club rugby in Australia for the Sunshine Coast Stingrays in Queensland and for the Ricoh Black Rams in Japan’s Top League.
He was back in Wellington in 2015, as player-coach of the Johnsonville club side. He also played for the Wellington Sevens team and in 2016 returned to Oriental-Rongotai as a coach.
His brother, Paula, played for Romania at the 2015 Rugby World Cup.