211 matches [1997-2008]
160 points [40 tries]
New Zealand born St. Marys junior who was made his debut as a 17 year old during Penrith’s Super League season. He would soon be a regular member of the squad, alternating between a starting front rower and interchange forward.
In 1998, he made his Test debut for the Kiwis, making the first of his 21 appearances, and become a mainstay in their forward pack for most of the next decade.
Puletua switched to the second row in 2000 and had a break out season in the Panthers premiership winning 2003 season, forming a formidable pairing with fellow New Zealander Joe Galuvao – their long hairstyles had them coined as the “Hair Bears”.
He suffered a season ending injury after only 5 rounds in 2005 but returned the following season as the appointed club captain after it had been stripped off team mate Craig Gower.
Later that season, he was named in the second row in the ‘Team of Legends’ to commemorate Penrith’s 40 seasons in the premiership.
Whilst he was not able to recapture his 2003 form, he provided experience in the Panthers forward pack, making a return to the front row in 2008, during which he became the seventh player to make 200 first grade appearances for Penrith. However, he was released one year early from his contract at the end of that season after playing a total of 211 matches. After his departure from the Panthers, he was selected for Samoa at the end of season World Cup.
Puletua would join the English Super League St. Helens in 2009. He would play seven seasons in the Super League before returning to Australia at the end of 2015.