Loni 'The Tongan Bear' Uhila making his mark with the Hurricanes

His birth certificate says Loni Uhila but that's not the name most people know him by. 

The nickname 'Tongan Bear' was given to him by former All Blacks prop Carl Hoeft and it stuck after it was used for a corporate boxing match that was televised across New Zealand. 

The facial hair of the 122kg Hurricanes prop certainly presents an imposing figure but don't let that fool you. 

"I guess if you piss him off the bear might come out, but at the moment he's just a cuddly one," said Hurricanes team-mate Cory Jane.

A softly spoken proud Tongan, Uhila can't believe he's playing Super Rugby. 

"I never think that it was going to come anytime, like I never thought I'd make it in Super Rugby," he said. 

If it hadn't been for a close mate turning down a rugby scholarship, big Loni might not have made it to New Zealand. 

"He gave me a scholarship to Sacred Heart. I'm always grateful to him. I named my son after him, to be honest. The name is Lala after my mate," Uhila said.

Uhila's a hit with his new team-mates. 

"All the Tongans they're quite funny guys so they're good for the team," said first-five Beauden Barrett.

"And yeah he's a character old Loni."

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