1. mt.wellington
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    mt.wellington Warriors Orange Peeler Contributor

    A thread to follow Ligi Sao's career as he returns to the Warriors. Hopefully the start of a long future here at the club...

    New Zealand Warriors sign Ligi Sao from Manly Sea Eagles for next NRL season
    DAVID LONG
    Last updated 16:50, July 22 2015
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    The New Zealand Warriors have brought Ligi Sao back from the Manly Sea Eagles for the 2016 NRL season after letting him go three years ago.

    Sao, who was born in Auckland and came through the Warriors' system, will return to the club on a two-year contract from next year.

    The 22-year-old was named to play against the Warriors on Saturday but could be suspended for two weeks for a grade one dangerous throw charge on the Cowboys' Michael Morgan on Monday night.

    The signing of Sao follows the pattern of other recruits for 2016, with Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and Issac Luke both returning to New Zealand from overseas. The club were also interested in Kieran Foran, Jason Nightingale, Peta Hiku, Jason Taumalolo and Steve Matai.

    Sao is mainly regarded as a prop and has begun most of his 15 games for the Sea Eagles this season from the interchange bench. But for this weekend's game at Mt Smart Stadium he was named to play at lock.

    Sao started playing league for the Manurewa Marlins, before being initially picked up by the Warriors. He played well for the under-20 team in 2012, but was surprisingly let go and offered a deal by the Sea Eagles.

    He spent most of that year playing in the NSW Cup, but made his NRL debut against the Cowboys in July 2013. Last year was a development one for Sao but 2015 proved his breakthrough season.

    With Sam Rapira leaving at the end of this season and Suaia Matagi already gone, Sao will add some depth to the Warriors' front row stocks and will be in a battle with the likes of Jacob Lillyman, Ben Matulino, Sam Lisone and Albert Vete for a starting spot.

    "We've been watching Ligi and he has developed well at Manly, especially this year with a lot more exposure at NRL level," Warriors head coach Andrew McFadden said.

    "He helps our depth with our middle players and increases competition for spots. It's also great to be able to bring Ligi back home."

    Sao said returning home was a key factor in his decision: "I've got the rest of this season ahead of me here at Manly but I'm excited the Warriors have given me the chance to come home.

    "It's a new challenge for me and one I'm looking forward to. I've really enjoyed my time with Manly and have been lucky to be around some great players but it's going to good being back in Auckland for next season."

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  2. mt.wellington
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    mt.wellington Warriors Orange Peeler Contributor

    "A lot has changed" - Ligi Sao
    Thu 5th November, 02:02PM
    Vodafone Warriors TV spoke with former Vodafone Junior Warrior and 2016 signing Ligi Sao during the first week of preseason training.

    Sao talked about his return to his old club, a relaxing off season in Samoa and his attitude to preseason.

    "It's been good being back home and being at the club. A lot has changed though," Sao commented.

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  3. bruce
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    bruce Warriors 1st Grader Contributor

    Interesting comment
     
  4. Sup42
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    Sup42 "Dave"

    He must have a good chance of making the seventeen next year ?

    One of Mainly's better forwards this year.

    Wonder why the club let him go in the first place.
     
  5. Freddie Futler
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    Freddie Futler 1st Grade Fringe

    Im all in favour of letting some of the young talent that we have go to an Australian club to experience the different mindset that they have.
    Sao is an example of what can happen when they get exposed to the Aussie system and come back here with a more professional attitude and approach to both training and game day.
    It is impossible to keep all the talent that we uncover and some will never buy into the hard graft required to be an elite sportsman so if they get that mentality overseas and are then encouraged to return to the Warriors I say go for it.
     
  6. Jordan G
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    Was probably looking for an opportunity. At the time we had Packer, Matulino, Rapira (Sam and Steve), Lillyman, and were probably still pinning our hopes on Lousi squared to produce the goods. Matagi was also in the Vulcans that year I believe and by the time the 2012 season ended they probably had an idea on whether they wanted to trial him or not.

    Don't mind that he left, it's just a bitch when they don't want to come back. lol.

    RTS and Luke are obviously brilliant signings, but this guy is one of those under the radar signings that could come up trumps in a big way. he would 100% be part of my 17.
     
  7. SeanHugh
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    My money is he will be starting by seasons end. He is a beast.
     
  8. Jimi Jones
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    Jimi Jones 1st Grade Fringe

    Yep My monies on Sao an Vete as our bench props
    I'm picking our props to really push it next year ,All
    the talk about one big forward will fade away
    Vete is a solid prop an by the finals of this season
    will be coming up on 50 games,
    Ligi played for manly an has some first grade
    experience That's not a bad bench
     
  9. jonno
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    jonno Warriors 1st Grader

    Awesome to see a guy who didn't stand out in the 20s taking his chances and making it into the big league...
     
  10. Iafetas Kickstand Wang
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    Iafetas Kickstand Wang 1st Grade Fringe

    He won the best forward NYC award at the Warriors and was excellent in dominant teams. He would regularly stampede for 150 plus metres.
     
  11. jonno
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    jonno Warriors 1st Grader

    Year but that's not a standout enough performance to get him a contract here at the Warriors..

    If there's one lesson for the youngsters here, it's that the selectors aren't always right. Sao believed in himself enough to kick ass anyway.
     
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2015
  12. mode81
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    mode81 1st Grade Fringe

    Sao was definitely one of our best under 20's players I always rated him and glad to see him come home a better player and mature person.

    Exposure to the ozzy league system would have done him the world of good it's so beneficial in terms of professionalism

    Anyone who doubts his ability needs to watch the game between us and Manly he bossed our forward pack around and got a beautiful offload to set up Trebojevic for a try.. had 3 of our forwards hanging off him and still managed to pop the pass in heavy traffic, that takes tremendous power & skill to pull off.

    It's like some of the forumers have totally forgotten him or just didn't take notice.. Similar to the critics who never gave Bodene a chance and he turned out to be one of our better players.

    Sao was one of Mehnly's best forwards throughout the season and I expect him to be there in round one if his injury has settled, he's a class player
     
  13. Defence
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    Defence 1st Grade Fringe

    Who remembers when that sharks player bit him?
    Then he only got a one week suspension because he was asthmatic haha- one of the best defenses ever.
     
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  14. Jordan G
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    Sao was a standout for me in NYC, but I always understood why we let him leave without too much of a fight. In Hindsight it's easy to say we could/should have kept him, but back then spots appeared limited for the foreseeable future and one thing we've always seemed to do (whether right or wrong) is put a bit of effort into helping players find other NRL clubs while they're still fresh in those clubs minds.
     
  15. Ref
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    Ref 1st Grade Fringe

    Sao's in the 17 surely.
    Agree with some earlier posts that he was one of Manlys best forwards.
    Some class under 20s don't make the step up.
    He has.
     
  16. Weno
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    Weno 1st Grade Fringe

    Has a bit of sting on D when he gets a chance to put one on.
     
  17. Boats n Hoes
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    Boats n Hoes 1st Grade Fringe

    I take it you never saw him play 20s....
     
  18. eric
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    eric 1st Grade Fringe

    Manly reject and should never play first grade again.
     
  19. Blain
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    Blain 1st Grade Fringe

    Haha wouldn't go that far.. But he doesn't look very match fit ATM, I can't understand why he is beating out Vete/Gavet atm.

    TBH it's bloody hard to concentrate these sort of comments to bench/fringe players. You could say this about every player based on last nights performance, this guy earns about 1/5 of what Matulino is on for example, but Ben looked just as lame.

    Root of the problem here is alot deeper.
     
  20. eric
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    eric 1st Grade Fringe

    Yeah it's over the top haha but I'm still fucking annoyed.