Skilful first five-eighth or fullback Tanner Vili returned to New Zealand in 2007 after more than five years overseas to play for Counties Manukau in the Air New Zealand Cup.
Samoan international Vili made his test debut shortly before the 1999 first World Cup against Canada in the Pacific Rim tournament, also representing Samoa in seven IRB Sevens tournaments that year. Vili played in his second world cup in 2003 and represented the Pacific Islands combined team in their tests against the All Blacks, Wallabies and Springboks in 2004 and featured in Michael Jones’ Samoan side in the inaugural IRB Pacific 5 Nations tournament in 2006.
Despite leaving to forge out a successful career overseas at the end of 2001, for a long time at Celtic League club Borders and from November 2005 for the Kintestsu club in Japan, the sleight and skilful Vili played all his early rugby in New Zealand. This included two seasons as a Hurricane in 2000 and 2001, selected on the back of his Samoan performances in 1999, transferring from his native Auckland where he had been top point scorer in Auckland club rugby in 1998.
With David Holwell firmly entrenched as first five-eighth and Christian Cullen at fullback, opportunities for Vili were limited with the Hurricanes – picked for five appearances all off the bench. Vili also appeared four times for Wellington in the NPC in these two seasons, playing for the Old Boys-University club side.
Vili payed for King Country in the 2010 Heartland Championship.