The Hurricanes celebrated the career of one of their champion players in their penultimate round-robin match of the 2010 Rebel Sport Super 14 season when No. 8 Rodney So’oialo played his 100th game in round 13 against the Reds.
The dedicated, hard working and popular So’oilao reached the landmark personal milestone on his home ground at Westpac Stadium in Wellington.
He became the second Hurricanes player and first forward to reach a century of appearances for the franchise, after founding Hurricanes player and midfield back and winger Tana Umaga (122 caps, 1996-2007).
So’oialo's’s name had been a mainstay on Hurricanes teamsheets for the past nine seasons since he played his first match at openside flanker against the Reds in Brisbane in the first round of the 2001 Super 12 season.
So’oialo had another busy year for the Hurricanes in 2010 after relinquishing the captaincy reins he had held since 2006 to hooker Andrew Hore at the start of the seasons, after playing 49 games as skipper.
Such is his athleticism, workrate and leadership abilities as Hurricanes captain from 2006-2008 that by the end of 2008 he had established himself as the New Zealand’s first choice No. 8, and had played 54 Tests. He was left out of the All Blacks for the early part of the 2009 international season but returned to play in eight of the year’s Tests and toured Europe in Black in October and November.
In 2010, So’oialo again missed out on the All Blacks for their winter Tests and instead played for the Barbarians against England at the end of the month, before being named as the Wellington Lions captain for the 2010 ITM Cup. However injury kept him sidelined throughout most of the NPC competition and he was never in contention for national honours. He returned to again represent the Barbarians in London at the end of the year.
Like his famous Porirua-raised contemporary Jerry Collins, So’oialo played his early rugby in the backs. He was fullback for Wellington Secondary Schools as a fifth former, but switched to the forwards the following year and on to further representation. His younger brother James was selected as a fullback in Samoa's 2011 Rugby World Cup squad, while older brother Steven played 38 Tests for Samoa and led Wellington club Tawa to the Premier 2 Hardham Cup title in 2011.
He has also represented New Zealand in six IRB Sevens tournaments, of which five were won, including the 2001 Rugby World Cup Sevens in Argentina, and was a Commonwealth Games Sevens gold medallist in Manchester in 2002. He was also a part of the winning New Zealand U21s in the International U21tournament in Auckland in 2000.
In mid-2011, So'oialo departed New Zealand for a two-year contract with the Honda Heat in Japan.
Hanging up his playing boots and returning to New Zealand to live and continue his involvement with the game at a coaching level in Wellington club rugby.