Front and centre: Gianna and Emina Tiatia (left and right in the foreground) are competing in netball at the AIMS Games this week.
Among the 10 sets of twins on the netball courts at the AIMS Games are ex-All Black Filo Tiatia’s twin girls and it just so happens they’re two of five daughters of former All Blacks playing netball in Tauranga this week.
Daughters of Adrian Cashmore, Jeremy Stanley and former All Blacks captain Tana Umaga are competing at the 16th AIMS Games and netball has the most participating teams (125) of the week-long event featuring more than 11,500 intermediate-aged athletes – a record-breaking turnout.
Also leaping around the netball courts are the daughters of league legends Manu Vatuvei and Ali Lauiti’iti, Makayla and Ivana – the latter playing at her second AIMS Games – while former Silver Ferns Anna Stanley (Baradene College of the Sacred Heart) and Courtney Tairi (Diocesan School for Girls) are coaching for respective Auckland schools.
Jeremy and Anna Stanley’s daughter Jaya is also playing at the Tauranga event and has inherited some talented sporting genes from her father and mother. Her grandfather Joe Stanley was an All Black and her grandmother Brenda Rowberry was a Silver Fern.
Tiatia’s 11-year-old twin daughters, Emina and Gianna, were at wing attack and wing defence for South Wellington Intermediate on Monday and dad, a hard-nosed loose forward for Wellington and the Hurricanes between 1992 and 2001, has passed on some advice from his well travelled rugby career.
“He gives us tips and to go hard and [also advice] with different skills to work on,” Emina said.
Mum Sally is team manager and their coach, Martha Taru, has been involved in netball for 54 years and 37 of those have been with the PIC (Pacific Islands Presbyterian Church) Netball Club as a treasurer, a president and a coach.
Emina and Gianna, who were born in Swansea in Wales as Tiatia spent five years with Welsh club Ospreys, took up netball five years ago and have also tried out touch rugby and basketball.
Since retiring in 2011, Tiatia has turned to coaching and was an assistant with Ospreys and his former Japanese club Toyota Verblitz until becoming head coach in Toyota in 2012.
Emina and Gianna are No 3 and 4 of five children but they’re not identical and while they were too young to remember much of Wales, the twins said they fondly remember Japan “because of the food” – namely “ramen noodles and sushi”.
Tiatia coached the Sunwolves in Super Rugby in 2017 and had spells as an assistant with Japan before returning to New Zealand as one of Auckland’s assistants alongside World Cup-winning All Blacks coach Sir Graham Henry for last year’s Mitre 10 Cup. Auckland won their first title since 2007 last season.
AIMS GAMES VIA SPORTS INC
The AIMS Games were opened by a pair of world champions in Chelsea Alley and Casey Kopua.
The family followed dad to Wales and Japan but were back in Wellington when he coached the Tokyo-based Sunwolves for a season.
Tiatia played two tests against Tonga and Italy in 2000 and often faced fierce competition for a starting berth at the Hurricanes because of All Blacks Jerry Collins and Rodney So’oialo.