Footy legend known as ‘The Beast’ faces life after being caught importing meth when a cyst in his brain ended his stellar sports career
- Manu Vatuvei faces life behind bars after pleaded guilty to importing meth
- Warriors legend charged with possession and supply of drugs in 2019
- He initially said he would ‘fight for his innocence’ but pleaded guilty on Wednesday
- Vatuvei is sentenced to life imprisonment in December
Footy legend Manu Vatuvei faces life behind bars after pleading guilty to importing methamphetamine into New Zealand after his career ended prematurely following the discovery of a brain cyst.
Vatuvei, 35, played for the Warriors and Kiwi national team over a 13-year career in which he was named the club’s record try scorer and one of the country’s most beloved rugby league stars.
His sports career ended abruptly in June 2019 after Vatuvei discovered he had a cyst in his brain.
A few months later, he was charged with possession of meth for supplying and importing the Class A drug in December 2019. He later posted a video to Instagram saying he would “fight for his innocence.”
On Wednesday, Vatuvei admitted a representative charge of importing methamphetamine to Auckland’s Manukau District Court. The charges carry a maximum prison term of life.
Rugby league legend Manu Vatuvei (pictured right with wife Jenny) has pleaded guilty to importing methamphetamine into New Zealand
Vatuvei, nicknamed ‘The Beast’, was a fan favorite with the Warriors, playing 226 games for the club, as well as 29 Tests for the Kiwis and two for Tonga
Vatuvei, nicknamed ‘The Beast’, was a fan favorite with the Warriors, playing 226 games for the club, as well as 29 Tests for the Kiwis and two for Tonga.
His 152 tries for the team are nearly double the second-place finish of Stacey Jones, earning the love of footy fans with his infectious personality and hurtful playing style.
He was charged with importing and supplying meth in 2019, but his name was initially suppressed by courts, instead referring to Vatuvei in legal documents as “one of the biggest names in New Zealand sport”.
His name was suppressed until May 2021, when he revealed the allegations in an Instagram video posted to his account.
“In 2019, I was charged with importation, possession and supply of methamphetamine,” Vatuvei said the night before the abolition order was due to expire.
“All these charges are charges and I will fight for my innocence on these charges.
“I know there will be a lot of questions that want answers, but I’ve been advised by my legal team that that’s all I can talk about.”
Vatuvei’s name was suppressed until May 2021, when he revealed the allegations in an Instagram video posted to his account
He has been released on parole with a curfew until his sentencing in December along with brother Mafi (pictured with singer Dinah Jane)
The 35-year-old, who worked as a real estate agent after his football career, will now be sentenced along with his brother, Lopini Mafi, and two other men.
Vatuvei’s admission of guilt for importing meth causes the Crown to drop all other charges.
He has been released on parole with a curfew until his sentencing in December along with brother Mafi.
Vatuvei turned to boxing in 2019 after an injury-ridden NRL season in England.
During this time, he discovered the cyst, which prevented him from stepping into the ring.
According to Warriors legend, there were no signs or symptoms of the cyst. He was forced to cancel others because he thought it was too risky to continue.
What is a brain cyst?
- Brain cysts are fluid-filled sacs that can form in the brain. They can be benign (not cancer) or malignant (cancer).
- A brain cyst that is not causing symptoms will sometimes show up during an imaging scan done for another reason.
- Even when brain cysts are noncancerous, they can press against brain tissue and cause symptoms. Sometimes a cyst can block the normal flow of CSF. This can cause problems.