HAMILTON’S close-knit rugby community are mourning the loss of a bright young star after a fatal car accident at Gateshead yesterday.
Tevita Maile, 22, was killed when the Mitsubishi Lancer in which he and four friends were travelling hit a power pole on the Pacific Highway, northbound, near Oxford Street, about 3.30am.
Hamilton Rugby Club first grade player Steve Sione, 21, was driving back from a barbecue on the Central Coast with his girlfriend Bridgette Su’a, 19, riding in the passenger seat.
Fellow first grader Tyson Watene, 22, and Colts team member Tiueti Asi, 20, were travelling in the back with Mr Maile.
Mr Maile sustained critical injuries and died at the scene.
The other occupants of the vehicle were taken to Newcastle’s John Hunter Hospital with various injuries.
Mr Watene remained in intensive care in a stable condition late yesterday.
The friends, who had moved to Newcastle from New Zealand, were on their way home to Islington at the time of the crash.
They had been spending the evening visiting a fellow Hamilton Hawks member who recently moved to the Central Coast.
Newcastle Crash Investigation Unit commander Sergeant Peter Stace said yesterday it appeared that fatigue and wet weather may have been factors in the accident.
Investigations were continuing.
Hamilton Rugby Club president Brett Sutherland said those involved in the accident were devastated, as was the club.
‘‘Like any large sporting club everyone’s a fairly tight-knit community,’’ he said.
‘‘When something like this happens it [hits] ... hard.’’
Mr Sutherland said the players involved in the accident were all key members of the club.
He said they moved to Newcastle to play for Hamilton.
Mr Maile, who was nicknamed Dee, was a hard running inside centre in his second season with the Hawks. He was a member of last year’s grand final-winning second grade side.
Starting in second grade this year, he was playing his way back through the grades following an injury.
Another club official said Mr Maile was a gentle, loyal kid, who volunteered to coach junior rugby teams within the club.
Mr Maile worked at Hunter Industrial Ceramics at Carrington.