Dene Halatau (born 27 January 1983) is a New Zealand professional rugby league footballer who currently plays for the Wests Tigers of the National Rugby League. A New Zealand national representative forward, he previously played for the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs after having started his career at Wests, with whom he won the 2005 NRL Premiership. Halatau was also part of the New Zealand team that won the 2008 World Cup.
Born in Invercargill, New Zealand, Halatau moved to Australia as a 4-year-old and played his junior rugby league for the Merryfields Rams and North Ryde Hawks before being signed by the Wests Tigers. Halatau was educated at Westfields Sports High School. He is of Niuean descent.
In Round 13 of the 2003 NRL season, Halatau made his NRL debut for the Wests Tigers against the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles at Leichhardt Oval off the interchange bench in the Tigers 38–30 loss. In Halatau's third match in Round 18 against the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks at Leichhardt Oval, Halatau scored his first and second tries in the Tigers 44–12 win. He finished his debut year in the NRL with him playing in 9 matches and scoring 3 tries.
Halatau finished the 2004 NRL season with him playing in 22 matches and scoring 4 tries. In November 2004, He was selected for the New Zealand national rugby league team making his test debut at hooker against France in the Kiwis 24–20 win at Stade d'Albert Domec.
Halatau was selected for New Zealand in the 2005 ANZAC Test at Suncorp Stadium, playing off the interchange bench in the Kiwis 32–16 loss. Later in the season Halatau was moved from the interchange bench to lock forward for the finals campaign. Halatau was awarded the Man of the Match for his two try effort against St George Illawarra Dragons in the Preliminary Final in the Tigers 20–12 win at SFS and a week later in the 2005 NRL Grand Final, He played at lock in the Wests Tigers 30–16 win over the North Queensland Cowboys making the Tigers premiers of the 2005 NRL season. Halatau finished the year with him playing in 22 matches and scoring 4 tries.
Halatau was selected to play for New Zealand at hooker in the 2007 ANZAC Test in the Kiwis 30–6 loss at Suncorp Stadium. Halatau finished 2007 with one try from 21 matches. He also went on the 2007 All Golds tour, playing at hooker in all the 5 matches.
In Round 15 against the Brisbane Broncos at Suncorp Stadium, Halatau played his 100th NRL career match and scored a try in the Tigers 19–18 loss. Halatau finished the 2008 NRL season with him playing in 22 matches and scoring 3 tries. In August 2008, Halatau was named in the New Zealand training squad for the 2008 World Cup, and in October 2008, he was named in the final 24-man Kiwi squad. Halatau was a member of the World Cup winning New Zealand team which defeated Australia 34–20 in the 2008 World Cup Final at Suncorp Stadium.
Halatau played in the 2009 ANZAC Test at Suncorp Stadium in the Kiwis 38–10 loss. In 14 August 2009, Halatau signed a 3-year deal with the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs commencing in 2010. Halatau finished the 2009 NRL season with him playing in 18 matches and scoring 2 tries.
In Round 3 against the Sydney Roosters at ANZ Stadium, Halatau made his club debut for the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs in the Bulldogs smashing 60–14 win. Halatau played in 8 matches for the Bulldogs in an injury interrupted 2010 NRL season.
In Round 23 against the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks at Remondis Stadium, Halatau scored his first try as a Bulldog before succumbing to a season ending ankle injury in the Bulldogs 19–12 win. Halatau finished the 2011 NRL season scoring one try from 19 appearances.
In 2012, Halatau was playing second-row in the starting team. Halatau injured his knee in July after Round 19 in the Bulldogs 32–12 win over the Parramatta Eels at ANZ Stadium and was unable to return to first grade. Halatau was named 18th man for the Bulldogs 2012 NRL Grand Final team against the Melbourne Storm with the Bulldogs losing 14–4. He finished the season with him playing 17 matches and scoring a try.
In 28 July 2013, it was announced that Halatau would be returning to his previous club Wests Tigers on a two-year contract from 2014. CEO Grant Meyer said, "His experience and leadership as a senior player is going to be invaluable for some of our younger players. We have been very clear that we are investing very heavily in our juniors and a player like Dene will provide leadership and mentoring for the group." Halatau played exclusively from the interchange bench in 2013, but made appearances in all 25 of the Bulldogs matches and scored 2 tries.
Halatau was ruled out for at least four months after breaking his left ankle in the Tigers 32–8 trial win over the Penrith Panthers in Camden. Halatau played his return match in Round 14 against the South Sydney Rabbitohs at ANZ Stadium off the interchange bench in the Tigers 32–10 loss. In Round 18 against the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles at Brookvale Oval, Halatau played in his 200th NRL match in the Tigers 40–8 loss. Halatau finished his return year to the Tigers with him playing in 7 matches.
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