Recruitment Warriors Player Roster and Contracts - 2016

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Thomas Leuluai

ANNOUNCEMENT | Leuluai signed until 2017
Richard Becht
Sat 9th August, 11:19PM

Thomas Leuluai has signed to stay with the Vodafone Warriors until the end of the 2017 NRL season. Image |

Leuluai said it was important to settle his long-term future with the Vodafone Warriors.

“While I’ve had a frustrating season personally I couldn’t be happier being back home,” he said.

“I always wanted to come back to not only play in the NRL but to play for my original club.

“I think we’re in great shape. It’s impressive how much the club has grown since I first started here.

“We’ve got a really good squad, fantastic talent coming through and outstanding facilities. We don’t want for anything.

“As players we love the job Cappy (Andrew McFadden) and the coaching staff are doing.”

Vodafone Warriors head coach Andrew McFadden said Leuluai’s all-round value couldn’t be overstated.

“Everything he does is of the highest quality,” he said.

“While he has missed a fair bit of football lately he has still contributed massively as one of our captains and through his professionalism and competiveness.

“Having Tommy on board to the end of 2017 is critical to our progress.”

Sunday’s clash against the Sharks will be Leuluai’s fourth since returning from a three-month lay-off following more issues with the groin complaint which ruined his 2013 Rugby League World Cup campaign with the Kiwis.

He played every minute of the Vodafone Warriors’ 24 games last year – 1920 in total – in what was an impressive return to NRL football after eight seasons in the English Super League, the last six with the Wigan Warriors.

The son of 1979-1986 Kiwi legend James Leuluai, he has played 31 Tests for the Kiwis, two more than his father did. Their combined total of 60 Tests is clearly the world record for most internationals by a father and son combination.

This season Leuluai was joined at the Vodafone Warriors by his long-time Wigan team-mate Sam Tomkins and in 2015 he and Tomkins will be reunited with another former club-mate in Kangaroos, New South Wales and Melbourne second rower Ryan Hoffman; Hoffman spent the 2011 season with Tomkins and Leuluai at Wigan before returning to the Storm in 2012.

At the time of his NRL debut in 2003, Leuluai was the youngest-ever player to appear in a first-grade match for the Vodafone Warriors while he also had the distinction of making his NRL and Test debuts in that same season.

He was in the Kiwi teams that claimed the 2008 Rugby League World Cup and the 2010 Four Nations title.


Born: June 22, 1985

Birthplace: Auckland, NZ

Position: Hooker/halfback/standoff

Height: 176cm

Weight: 86kg

Junior Clubs: Papatoetoe Panthers, Otahuhu Leopards (Auckland)

Other Clubs: Vodafone Warriors (2003-2004), London Broncos (2005), Harlequins (2005-2006), Wigan Warriors (2007-2012)

Kiwi Number: 704

Tests: 31 (2003-2013)

Test Debut: v Australia, North Harbour Stadium, Auckland, 2003

Test Points: 12 (3 tries)

NRL Debut: Vodafone Warriors v Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs, Westpac Stadium, Wellington, May 2, 2003 (Round 8)

Club Number: 105

NRL Games: 52 (2003-2004 & 2013-2014)

NRL Points: 32 (8 tries)

Super League Games: 227 games (2005-2012):

London Broncos/Harlequins: 38 games (2005-2006)

Wigan Warriors: 189 games (2007-2012)

Super League Points: 320 (80 tries):

London Broncos/Harlequins: 80 points (20 tries)

Wigan Warriors: 240 points (60 tries)

Other Honours: Exiles 2011-2012, Harry Sunderland Trophy 2010


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Henare Wells

Warriors sign former Roosters fullback for 2016 season
Last updated 12:11, September 15 2015

The Warriors have added more depth to their roster for 2016 by signing Henare Wells from the Burleigh Bears.

The-22-year-old fullback, who was born in Taumarunui, but moved to Sydney at a young age, came through the Roosters system and was the player next to Roger Tuivasa-Sheck in the 2013 NRL media guide on the club's Toyota Cup page.

But while Tuivasa-Sheck has kicked on to become one of the best league players in the world, Wells's career hasn't been as momentous yet.

Wells wasn't able to make it into the first grade side at the Roosters and despite scoring some spectacular tries for their then reserve grade feeder team, the Newtown Jets.

He scored 21 tries for the Jets in 2013 and was named in the NSW Cup Team of the Year.

Wells was released at the end of that season and moved to Queensland Cup side, the Bears.

Last year he scored six tries in a game for the Bears against Sunshine Coast and went through a patch of scoring 13 tries in four games. But this year he picked up a knee injury, which restricted his game time this year.

Wells broke the news of the move to the Warriors himself, writing on Facebook: "Happy days just signed my deal with the NZ WARRIORS now to go celebrate and party it up in bali tomorrow with trigga trey. Yew"

Wells certainly won't be on big money at the Warriors and will once again be in the shadows of Tuivasa-Sheck.

He's a fullback with electrifying pace and nice hands and a similar playing style to the departing Glen Fisiiahi.

While Tuivasa-Sheck is arguably the best fullback in the NRL, there isn't a huge amount of cover for him next season.

Tuimoala Lolohea appears heading to centre or wing next year, although he is clearly a good option at fullback. But promising fullback Bradley Abbey has been granted a release to join the Bulldogs and the club believe 2016 is still a year too soon for their other hot fullback prospect, Nathaniel Roache.

Wells becomes the fifth player recruited by the Warriors for next year, following Tuivasa-Sheck, Issac Luke, Ligi Sao and Blake Ayshford.


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James Gavet.

Article abridged...

James Gavet one bright light for woeful Warriors
Date March 10, 2016
David Long

James Gavet is hopeful he'll be able to get regular football with the Warriors. Photo: Jonathan Ng

One of the positives from last weekend's defeat in Sydney was James Gavet, who was making his debut for the club.

The 26-year-old played just 14 games over four seasons for the Bulldogs, Tigers and Broncos before coming to the Warriors this year.

He initially joined the club on a trial, but was given a full-time contract last month, the fact that he started at prop last weekend ahead of Ben Matulino was an indication of how impressed McFadden has been with him.

After a number of false starts with his NRL career, Gavet is hopeful that this time he'll finally be able to get regular footy, but given the loss to the Tigers, had mixed feelings about his first NRL game in a Warriors jersey.

"There was, especially against my old team," Gavet said.

"This week I'm up against another of my old teams. It was good to get out there though and have a fresh blow out.

"But it was a tough pill to swallow," he added.

"Especially after letting ourselves down in the first half, but then showing everyone what we were capable of in the second half.

"We knew what we were capable of, but weren't able to deliver. We've done it at training, but we have to put it into 80 minutes."

While it's been all doom and gloom about the Warriors since their Tigers loss, it's worth remembering that the Cowboys lost their first three games last season and went on to win the Premiership.

"There is a bad omen about what happens in the first few games with the Warriors and I think we've got the team to break that mindset," Gavet said.

"It's a testament to what we've gone through in the preseason and there are no excuses at the end of the day with what happened, but hopefully we can right those wrongs this week."

Gavet only played one game while with the Broncos, he ruptured his ACL before the club's round three game, which ruled him out for the rest of the season and the club decided to release him from the last year of his contract.

"It will be good to play against those boys and also good for our team to showcase what we're really about," he said.

"I'm really hopeful about this week and I don't think we've justified how we play just yet.

"We've shown glimpses, but this week is a perfect opportunity to show everyone we're a force to be reckoned with this season, especially as a grand finalist team."


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Shaun Lane...


Vodafone Warriors and Bulldogs complete swap


Contract negotiations have been completed for a player swap resulting in giant Canterbury Bankstown back rower Shaun Lane joining the Vodafone Warriors in exchange for second rower Raymond Faitala-Mariner.

The 1.98cm Lane (21) and Faitala-Mariner (22), who were both off contract at the end of the 2016 season, have been granted immediate releases to join their new clubs.

They both made their NRL debuts last year, Faitala-Mariner going on to play 11 times after his debut in round eight and Lane appearing in each of the Bulldogs’ last 14 matches of the season (scoring five tries) including their two finals games against St George Illawarra and the Sydney Roosters.

Lane, signed by the Vodafone Warriors on a one-year contract, wasn’t used by the Bulldogs in the opening rounds of this season while Faitala-Mariner appeared once for the Vodafone Warriors against Brisbane.

“This outcome is mutually beneficial for both clubs,” said Vodafone Warriors recruitment and development manager Tony Iro.

“Ray had been seeking a release but we weren’t prepared to allow him to move until we were able to find a suitable replacement.

“In Shaun we have a player who brings the qualities we were after to strengthen our squad.

“We thank Ray for the contribution he has made to our club and wish him all the best for the future.”

Lane, who played NYC football for the Bulldogs in 2013 and 2014, was named the club’s rookie of the year in 2015, winning the Steve Mortimer Medal.

“I’m excited to be here and just want to do all I can to play as much first-grade football as possible,” he said.

“I really enjoyed my time at the Bulldogs but it wasn’t working out this year. That’s football.

“The opportunity came up to join the Warriors. It’s all happened really quickly but I couldn’t be happier.”

Lane’s older brother Brett made an NRL appearance for the Bulldogs in 2012

Shaun Lane
Date of Birth: November 29, 1994
Birthplace: Sydney, NSW
Junior Club: South Eastern Seagulls
Position: Second Row
Height: 198cm
Weight: 115kg
NRL Debut: Canterbury-Bankstown v Gold Coast, Cbus Super Stadium, Robina, June 14, 2015 (Rd 14)
NRL Career: 14 appearances, 2015
NRL Points: 20 (5 tries)


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Vodafone Warriors release Hurrell
Wed 25th May 2016, 02:30PM

Konrad Hurrell has today been released from his contract with the Vodafone Warriors. He made 71 NRL appearances for the club. Image |

The Vodafone Warriors have confirmed centre Konrad Hurrell has today been released from his contract.

The 24-year-old Hurrell, who was contracted to the end of the 2018 season, leaves the club after making 71 NRL appearances since his debut in 2012.

“After discussions between Konrad, his management (Inventus Sports) and us we’ve reached a mutual agreement for him to be released now,” said Vodafone Warriors managing director Jim Doyle.

“We would like to thank Konrad for his contribution since coming into our development system. He has been a popular member of the club and we wish him all the best for the future.”

Hurrell said he had mixed emotions at first about leaving the Vodafone Warriors but was now excited as he looked forward to the rest of his career.

“I will always be thankful to the Vodafone Warriors for all they have done for me and the way they have helped me develop as a rugby league player,” he said.

“I’m grateful to all the boys I have played alongside, all the people at the club and also the members and fans.”

Hurrell made three NRL appearances this year, the last of them against Manly on April 3.


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Ali Lauitiiti...

Former Warriors forward Ali Lauitiiti returning to Auckland-based club for 2016 NRL season
Last updated 12:04, November 19 2015

Ali Lauitiiti carts the ball up during the Warriors' loss to the Roosters in the 2002 NRL grand final.

Former Warriors forward Ali Lauitiiti is coming home to Auckland to finish his playing career with his old club next year.

On Thursday, Warriors recruitment and development manager Tony Iro confirmed the 36-year-old back rower has signed a one-year second-tier contract to return to where his top-level career began 17 years ago.

Lauitiiti is bringing his family back to Auckland after eight seasons with the Leeds Rhinos and another four with the Wakefield Wildcats in the English Super League.

"For Ali this is a chance to come back to where it all began," Iro said.

"With his depth of experience he has so much to offer us as a leader and mentor both on and off the field.

"In realigning our squad our goal was to retain and recruit quality players while also ensuring we had a strong blend of experience throughout the wider group.

"While Ali is 36 now we saw he still has his range of skills when he played for Leeds against the Kiwis a few weeks ago."

Iro stressed Lauitiiti had been secured on a lower second-tier contract, not as a top 25 player.

The man once dubbed the "Michael Jordan of rugby league" was thrilled about the prospect of returning to Mt Smart Stadium after leaving the club in 2004.

The Auckland-born Mangere East Hawks junior wound up his playing time in England with a testimonial season at Wakefield before making his guest appearance for Leeds against the Kiwis last month.

"As a family we're excited about heading home after being away so long," he said from Leeds.

"For me it couldn't be better being given this chance to come back to the Warriors. I left a long time ago but the club has always been really special to me.

"While I've kept training I'll have some catching up to do once I join the boys for training but I want to do all I can to help the coaching staff, the team and the club in any way I can."

Warriors head coach Andrew McFadden welcomed the prospect of having one of the club's most popular players back in the fold.

"Ali has been an unbelievable player over so many years, which I saw first-hand while I was still playing," he said.

"Having more experience in our group is so important as we prepare for 2016 and beyond. A player like Ali will add so much with his knowledge and his leadership."

Lauitiiti became Warrior No 55 when he made a try-scoring NRL debut as an 18-year-old against North Sydney in 1998. He went on to play 115 games – scoring 33 tries – before signing for Leeds in 2004.

He quickly achieved legendary status with the Rhinos where he was a winner five times in six Super League grand finals and also helped Leeds to two World Club Challenge victories in 2005 and 2008.

Lauitiiti has scored more than 100 tries in 400-plus games for the Warriors, Leeds and Wakefield.

He's expected to arrive home in the next few weeks.


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Blake Ayshford

New Zealand Warriors sign Blake Ayshford from Cronulla Sharks on two-year deal
Last updated 18:54, September 14 2015

Blake Ayshford will leave the Cronulla Sharks to play for the New Zealand Warriors next season.

The New Zealand Warriors have signed Cronulla Sharks centre Blake Ayshford on a two-year deal.

The 27-year-old has been on the outer at the Sharks this season, playing just four games after featuring in 16 during the 2014 season.

He joined Cronulla following five years with the Wests Tigers, where he made 104 appearances and scored 33 tries.

Warriors coach Andrew McFadden said Ayshford had all the qualities the club was after as it continues to realign its NRL squad.

"We're undergoing a thorough process of reshaping our NRL squad for next year and beyond," he said.

"While we're always seeking to create depth and competition, we have also identified the need for more experienced and durable players with the level of professionalism we're after.

"Blake will bring those qualities to the club. He has been on the NRL scene for several seasons now and has demonstrated just what we need from our signings."

A product of the National Youth Competition's foundation season in 2008, Ayshford has generally been used in the centres during his career but also has some NRL experience on the wing, at standoff and loose forward.

He played in two finals campaigns with the Tigers in 2010 and 2011, including a loss to the Warriors as his new side went on to make the 2011 grand final.


Age: 27
Birthplace: Sydney, Australia
Position: Centre
Height: 190cm
Weight: 100kg
NRL Debut: Wests Tigers v Brisbane, Campbelltown Stadium, May 22, 2009 (Round 1)
NRL Career: 124 appearances, 136 points (34 tries)


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Jazz Tevaga


The Warriors continue to strengthen their roster with crafty hooker Jazz Tevaga signing a new two-year-deal.

Playing understudy to Issac Luke, Tevaga made his NRL debut earlier this year with the Warriors moving swiftly to prevent rivals pinching the 20-year-old.

While there was interest from other NRL clubs, Tevaga decided to stay in Auckland to learn under Luke.

Luke and Tevaga now both come off contract at the end of 2018 but the Christchurch product can play a number of positions.

Tevaga was lock in the junior Warriors’ 2014 NYC grand final winning team.

Tevaga inked a new contract last Friday with the club expected to announce the signing shortly.
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Ken Maumalo

Ken Maumalo to remain at Warriors after signing new deal
Last updated 20:21, June 22 2016

Warriors winger Ken Maumalo won the players' player award in his first game in first grade this year.

Ken Maumalo is determined to continue his career at the Warriors after forcing his way back into the NRL team and signing a new contract.

It was reported last month that the Warriors had verbally agreed to release the powerful winger to the Dragons before making a U-turn, believed to be triggered by question marks over what veteran winger Manu Vatuvei may do in the future.

At the time, Maumalo, who played eight games in his rookie season last year, was down the pecking order of wingers at the club and had yet to be used in first grade.

But another setback to Vatuvei - this time a hamstring injury - saw the 21-year-old recalled for last week's victory over the Roosters and he has held his spot for the clash against the Sharks on Saturday.

Maumalo is signed with the Warriors for the rest of this season, while they also have an option on him for next year. However, rather than just take up that option, the Warriors have gone a step further and given him a new contract until the end of the 2018 season.

Speaking ahead of the tough trip to Cronulla, Maumalo played down the potential mid-season switch and remains hopeful of building a future at Mt Smart.

"I wasn't that close [to leaving] but I'm going to stay loyal to the Warriors," he said.

"I'm happy being here, obviously I came up through the ranks and this is home for me. I just want to play my footy here."

Maumalo's return got off to a shaky start when he was sin-binned for knocking Roosters counterpart Joseph Manu off the ball in a try-scoring opportunity in the opening 20 minutes.

But he bounced back well, igniting the Warriors' sets with several barnstorming charges and running for a total of 183 metres to claim the players' player award.

"I thought he was fantastic," McFadden said. "He added some real impact for us and those sorts of carries, particularly out of our end, they get us on the front foot and when we're on the front foot it's difficult to contain us.

"We're going to need that again."

With plenty of pace to go with his imposing 191cm and 105kg frame, attack comes naturally to the Papatoetoe Panthers junior but his defence has been holding him back.

Maumalo says he has been working hard on maintaining his structure and improving his communication and credits frequent visits to defence coach Justin Morgan for helping him get back on track.

"Last year wasn't too good but these past weeks I've put a big emphasis on my defence. I always go and see Justin Morgan and watch video on what I need to work on.

"I knew my attack would get me into first grade and it was just my defence that was a problem."

With Vatuvei a possibility to return for next week's home game against the Titans and David Fusitua on fire on the right flank, Maumalo's stint back in first grade may be short-lived.

But he's vowed to make the most of his opportunity against the Sharks.

"My mindset at the moment is to earn my spot and play consistent footy. Just go out there this week and do the same thing I did last week."


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Bunty Afoa
Erin Clark
Jazz Tevaga
Ken Maumalo
Ofahiki Ogden
Patrick Sipley
Solomone Kata

Vodafone Warriors secure Kata until 2019

C8582cdb c64a 439a 8be3 b46fbc21cf8e

A contract extension signed today will keep outstanding centre Solomone Kata at the Vodafone Warriors until at least the end of the 2019 NRL season.

The 21-year-old Tonga international has missed just one of a possible 38 matches since making his first-grade debut against Newcastle in the opening round of the 2015 season.

The specialist left edge centre, who has 22 tries in his 37 games, was the team’s top try-scorer with 12 last year and he again leads this year with 10 in 13 appearances.

In confirming Kata’s contract, Vodafone Warriors recruitment and development manager Tony Iro also announced deals for five of the club’s other most promising young players.

Giant wing Ken Maumalo (21) and 2016 NRL rookie Jazz Tevaga (20) have signed to the end of the 2018 season and the club’s 2015 Vodafone NYC player of the year Bunty Afoa (19) has been secured to the end of 2019.

Vodafone Junior Warriors utility Erin Clark (18) and back rower Ofahiki Ogden (20), who have both been given ISP experience this season, have deals to the end of 2017 while prop Patrick Sipley (24), older brother of rookie NRL front rower Toafofoa, also has a one-year deal; Sipley was introduced to the ISP side last season and has again been used by coach Stacey Jones this year.

“Sol has made fantastic progress jumping straight from the NYC into the NRL last year,” said Iro.

“He has proved to be not only one of the game’s most damaging centres but also one of the most consistent. The NRL coaching staff are hugely impressed with him.

“We’ve moved to secure him long-term and we’re also delighted with the way Ken, Jazz, Bunty, Erin and Pat are developing. It’s especially pleasing for us seeing Sol, Ken, Jazz, Bunty and Erin come through our NYC side while Pat shows there’s a pathway from local football as well.”

Kata, Maumalo, Tevaga and Afoa were all in the club’s NYC premiership-winning side in 2014.

Kata’s rapid rise from rookie to first-choice NRL centre follows an impressive introduction to rugby league after playing First XV rugby union for Sacred Heart College in Auckland.

After scoring 11 tries in 17 matches in the 2013 NYC season, he was used sparingly in the grade in 2014 as he was developed in the club’s reserve grade side. He returned for the NYC finals, scoring a hat-trick and winning the Jack Gibson Medal in the grand final. He made 34 consecutive NRL appearances following his debut before his run was broken by a one-match suspension last month.

Maumalo played eight NRL games last year after debuting against Parramatta. He came back into the NRL team for the first time this year replacing the injured Manu Vatuvei for last Sunday’s 12-10 win over the Sydney Roosters; he’s in the side again for this week’s encounter with Cronulla.

Tevaga, an ISP regular, made the first of his six NRL appearances this season against Melbourne in round three while Afoa, who has played more than 50 NYC games, made his ISP debut last year, was reintroduced to the side last week and has been named to line up in the grade again this week.

This weekend Clark again starts at loose forward for the NYC side against Cronulla while Sipley is on the bench for the ISP team against North Sydney at Mount Smart Stadium #2 on Saturday.
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Jeff Robson...

Robson granted release to return to Sydney
Richard Becht | Image:
Tue 28th June, 03:15PM

Vodafone Warriors utility Jeff Robson has been granted an early release from his contract on compassionate grounds.

The 33-year-old joined the club on a one-year contract while his wife Gabi and the couple’s special needs daughter Charlotte remained in Sydney.

He appeared in the Vodafone Warriors’ first six matches of the season and had a seventh outing against St George Illawarra on May 1.

Vodafone Warriors recruitment and development manager Tony Iro said Robson, who has been playing for the club’s Intrust Super Premiership side, was keen to see out his contract but his family situation had been challenging.

“With Shaun (Johnson) and Tommy (Leuluai) coming back from surgery, we signed Jeff to give us experienced cover in the halves,” said Iro.

“While Shaun started the season Tommy didn’t so, having Jeff in the squad was a major benefit given his vast experience and the professional attitude he brought to the club.

“More recently Tommy has been back in the side and we also have Tui (Lolohea), Ata (Hingano) and Mason (Lino) as options in the halves.

“However, it has been difficult for Jeff on a personal level being separated from his family and we certainly support him in his desire to be back with them.”

Robson was grateful for the opportunity he had to play NRL football for the Vodafone Warriors after previous experience with Manly, Parramatta and Cronulla.

“I’ve really enjoyed coming over to New Zealand to be a part of this club. It’s a great set-up and I’ve appreciated the opportunities I’ve had,” he said.

“I would have liked to see my contract through but in the end my family is far more important. I haven’t seen a lot of them and I’m extremely grateful (coach) Cappy (McFadden), Tony, Jim (Doyle) and everyone else has been so understanding.

“I wish the boys and the coaching staff all the best for the rest of the season. I’ll be taking a special interest in their progress.”

Robson has played 166 NRL games since his debut in 2004.


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Thomas Leuluai...

Leuluai returning to England at end of season
Richard Becht | Image:
Mon 4th July, 05:00AM

Vodafone Warriors utility Thomas Leuluai has been granted a release from the last year of his contract on compassionate grounds enabling him to return to England at the end of the 2016 NRL season.

The 31-year-old began his second stint with the club in 2013 after returning from eight seasons in the English Super League.

“Tommy is contracted until the end of next season but he approached us some time ago asking for a release so he and his family could return to England,” said Vodafone Warriors managing director Jim Doyle.

“While we were certainly keen to see him play out the term of his contract, Tommy has always made it clear he would go back to England at some stage.

“His leadership qualities and professionalism have been invaluable but we understand his desire to return to England and take comfort from the fact we have a number of options in his positions.

“For now he’s fully committed and passionate about giving the Vodafone Warriors all he can for the rest of this season.”

Leuluai said he was grateful to the club for clearing the way for him to take his English-born wife Natalie and their baby daughter back to the United Kingdom.

“My intention was to see out my time here,” he said.

“I’ve loved being in familiar surroundings even though we’ve had our share of challenges but we’ve reached a point where we would like to go back.

“I can’t thank the Vodafone Warriors enough for their understanding with this. Jim and Cappy (Andrew McFadden) have been fantastic about it.”

Leuluai is the second youngest NRL debutant in the Vodafone Warriors’ history. He was six weeks short of his 18th birthday when he played his first game against Canterbury Bankstown in May, 2003.

He played his 77th match for the Vodafone Warriors in their 27-18 win over the Gold Coast Titans at Mount Smart Stadium on Saturday night.

It was his 304th first-grade appearance overall following 189 games for Wigan from 2007-2012 and 38 for the London Broncos/Harlequins from 2005-2006.

Leuluai has also played 34 Tests for the Kiwis since his debut in 2003.

  • The Wigan Warriors have this morning announced Leuluai has been re-signed on a contract which will see him become an assistant coach when his playing career finishes.
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James Gavet...

NRL: Warriors prop gets contract extension
2:45 PM Saturday Jul 23, 2016

James Gavet. Photo / Michael Craig

James Gavet's NRL renaissance will continue, after earning a contract extension at the Warriors until the end of the 2017 season.

The prop had been contemplating a return to rugby if he couldn't secure his future at Mt Smart, but that difficult decision has been taken out of his hands.

Today the Warriors activated a one-year option on his contract, meaning Gavet will have a second season at one club for the first time since 2013.

It's been an unlikely, but heart warming progression. Gavet has been dogged by misfortune, with three season-ending injuries in the last four years. He's also had personal struggles, with his well documented battles with alcohol and depression.

Gavet returned home late last year to get his life back on track, and stayed fit by training with Richmond Rovers. The 26-year-old was taken on as a triallist midway through pre-season training, with Warriors coach Andrew McFadden then deciding he was worth a punt.

Gavet has been a solid performer, and plays his eighth first grade game tonight in Canberra, after managing only 14 NRL matches between 2012 and 2015. He's averaging career-best minutes (32) and yardage (73m per game) and offers a point of difference with his aggression and mobility.

He's also impressed the club hierarchy with his application, despite long spells on the fringes. He was absent from first grade for the entire month of April, and then for a six-week spell from the beginning of June to mid-July.

"We've always had pretty healthy competition, especially with the front rowers," said Gavet. "It's always an adjustment when you go between teams but it doesn't matter to me. I've always just taken the field and given my all, whether it be State Cup or first grade. It doesn't matter if you are playing in front of thousands, or just a few hundred and not even on TV. That's how we get here in the first place and you have to earn your stripes."

Up until last week, Gavet was unsure if he had done enough, admitting he was considering a switch to the 15-man code if unwanted at the Warriors. He had his eyes on playing Mitre 10 Cup with Auckland and then Super Rugby.

"I still want to play sport but since there is only one league team in New Zealand I'd probably give union a crack ," said Gavet. "Last time I played I was 18 but I've got the foundations there [although] I'd need to brush up on it a bit. But [former All Black] Michael Jones is a family friend and he always encourages me to have another go."

Such ideas are on the backburner now, as Gavet contemplates some stability - on and off the field - after the turmoil of the last few seasons.

"It's a good opportunity," said Gavet. "I've been given a new role, more about laying the platform than just impact. I'd like to stamp my mark while the other boys are out."


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Henry retiring at end of season
Richard Becht
Tue 2nd August, 05:00PM

Following major knee surgery in three of the last four seasons, Vodafone Warriors back rower Ben Henry has today confirmed he will retire at the end of the 2016 NRL season.

The 24-year-old’s fifth NRL campaign was ended by a patella injury to his left knee in the opening match of the season against Wests Tigers in March.

It followed ACL injuries to the same knee in 2013 and 2015, the injuries limiting Henry to just 52 appearances since his NRL debut against Manly at Eden Park in the first round of the 2012 season.

“It’s been a tough call to make because my goals were always to be a professional rugby league player,” he said after telling his team-mates about his decision today.

“It’s a huge disappointment but after all the damage to my knee there really wasn’t any option. While my heart was set on coming back yet again I’ve had to accept my body won’t allow me to compete at the level I need to.

“While there have been setbacks I’m still so grateful for the opportunities rugby league has given me. To be able to play for the club in the NYC and the NRL as well as making my Test debut for my country has been a privilege.

“I’ve played alongside so many great players and I’ll always cherish those times. I want to thank all the team-mates and coaches I’ve had for being there to support me through the good and bad times.

“This isn’t the way I planned it but now I have made this decision I’m ready for the next phase of life after football.”

Ever since he was in the club’s NYC squad from 2009-2011, Henry has prepared himself for a career outside football through ongoing study. He has completed certificates in electrical engineering, small business and computer servicing while he has also been heavily involved in the club’s community, education and wellbeing areas including being an NRL education ambassador in 2013 and 2014 and a NRL State of Mind ambassador in 2015.

Coinciding with his decision to retire, Vodafone Warriors managing director Jim Doyle has announced Henry is in discussions for a role in the club’s football department.

“It’s a sad day for Ben and for all of us seeing his playing career ended so prematurely,” he said.

“Above all Ben is an impressive person with so many qualities and we see him providing so much value to the Vodafone Warriors.

“He has always been extremely professional in all he does, in the way he has prepared himself as a player and equally in the way he has prepared for his life without football.

“In addition to his rugby league career, he has been a champion of our education and wellbeing programme and he has taken on all the opportunities presented to him.

“The primary purpose of the role for Ben is to work with the players, the football department and our education and wellbeing team to promote and drive the success of the NRL team through constantly improving our standards.”

After coming into the Vodafone Warriors development system, Henry made his NYC debut in 2009 and went on to make a club record 64 appearances in the grade. He captained the side in 2010 and 2011, missing the grand final win in 2010 but leading the side to its premiership victory the following year.

Mainly used as a back rower during his NRL career, he also played in the centres. He has finished his career with 17 tries plus three goals in his 52 games.

The Bay Roskill Vikings junior made his Test debut – his only international appearance – in the 2014 Anzac Test against Australia in Sydney.
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Kieran Foran

Richard Becht | Image:
Thu 22nd September, 05:00PM

Vodafone Warriors managing director Jim Doyle tonight confirmed Kiwi standoff Kieran Foran has signed a one-year deal with the club for the 2017 NRL season.

Doyle made the announcement to Vodafone Warriors members attending the club’s annual members’ forum at Mount Smart Stadium.

He said the 26-year-old Foran had told him at the weekend that a move to Auckland was his preference as he continues to rebuild his life and resume his playing career.

“I’ve been in touch with Kieran regularly this year to offer support as he has dealt with the well-documented challenges he has been facing,” said Doyle.

“We have worked through the option of coming to Auckland carefully with him. There has been much to consider in creating an environment for Kieran to not only return to football but also to put all the support around him that he needs.

“I’m delighted that following those discussions, Kieran has now decided to join the Vodafone Warriors. The next step is to work alongside the NRL to cover off all requirements to have the contract registered.”

Auckland-born Foran moved to Australia with his family as a youngster and is now in line to live in the city for the first time since he was 10 when he joins the Vodafone Warriors for their first offseason training programme under just-appointed new head coach Stephen Kearney.

“I’ve had a lot of time to think about my future over the last few months,” said Foran from Sydney.

“Initially footy was the furthest thing from my mind and I needed time away from the game. More recently the desire to play again has completely returned and I’m very keen to make a big contribution next year.

“While I had other options, coming to Auckland emerged as the best decision for me. Being in a new environment was important but I’m also incredibly excited by the potential of the club and the quality roster it has. I can’t wait to be part of the team and I want to play a major role in 2017 in taking the club to the next level.

“I have so many people to thank for making this happen and for supporting me through what’s been a tough period.

“Now I want to repay them. The Vodafone Warriors have so much to offer and I’m looking forward to working with so many players I know from the Kiwis as well as Mooks (Stephen Kearney).”

Kearney said Foran would be a welcome arrival at the club.

“He’s such a high-quality footballer and competitor who will add a lot to our squad,” he said.

“Kieran and I have been in contact throughout the year and I know he has made a lot of progress with the challenges he has had. I’m extremely pleased to have him on board.”

Foran joined Parramatta this year after 147 appearances for Manly from 2009-2015. He had nine games for the Eels, the last of them against Newcastle on May 30.

In 156 games he has been on winning sides 97 times while he has been involved in one draw and 58 losses.

Foran was in Manly’s premiership-winning side against the Vodafone Warriors in 2011 and again in the 2013 grand final when the Sea Eagles lost to the Sydney Roosters. He was also a vital figure in the Kiwis’ successful Four Nations campaign in 2014.


Warriors Orange Peeler
David Fusitua
Ata Hingano

New contracts for Fusitu'a and Hingano
Fri 12th December 2014, 01:51PM

Two of the Vodafone Warriors’ most promising players have had their contracts extended by two years.

Rookie NRL winger David Fusitua, off contract next year, has been signed until the end of the 2017 season while 2014 NYC debutant Ata Hingano has been secured until the end of the 2016 season.

The 20-year-old Fusitua, managed by Aucklander Stan Martin, had the distinction of playing for each of the Vodafone Warriors’ three teams in 2014 in the NRL, New South Wales Cup and the NYC.

The Vodafone Warriors beat off interest from rival clubs to retain the pair.

“David and Ata are highly regarded by our coaching staff and are certainly two players we see having a big future with the club,” said Vodafone Warriors general manager football Dean Bell.

“They’re local products who have come through our system, both of them making significant progress this year.

“David has already underlined his ability at NRL level while Ata showed what he is capable of despite being the youngest player in our NYC side.”

A Marist Saints junior educated at Kelston Boys’ High School, Fusitua came into the Vodafone Junior Warriors in 2012.

He started the 2014 season playing for each of the club’s teams in the opening three rounds. In round one he scored a try in the New South Wales Cup loss to Wentworthville, made his NRL debut as a late replacement for Manu Vatuvei against St George Illawarra the following week and scored a hat-trick in the NYC team’s 50-12 win over North Queensland in the third round.

He made only two NYC appearances this year, finishing his career with 21 tries in 37 games. In four NSW Cup games he scored three tries in four games while in the NRL he had seven tries in 12 matches giving him a combined tally of 13 tries in 18 games this season.

DAVID Fusitua

Born: October 16, 1994

Birthplace: Auckland, NZ

Position: Wing/Fullback/Centre

Height: 189cm

Weight: 98kg

Junior Club: Marist Saints

NRL Debut: Vodafone Warriors v St George Illawarra, Eden Park, March 15, 2014 (Rd 2)

Club Number: 189

NRL Career: Vodafone Warriors | 12 appearances (2014)

NRL Points: 28 (7 tries)

NSW Cup Career: Vodafone Warriors | 4 appearances (2014)

NSW Cup Points: 12 (3 tries)

NYC Career: Vodafone Junior Warriors | 37 games (2012-2014)

NYC Points: 84 (21 tries)

Representative: Junior Kiwis (2012-2013), NZ Residents 18s (2011)

Educated: Kelston Boys’ High School, Auckland

David Fusitua

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Warriors Orange Peeler
David Fusitua
Isaiah Papalii
Junior Paunga

New deals for Vodafone Warriors trio
Richard Becht | Images:
Fri 7th October, 02:21PM

The Vodafone Warriors have secured utility David Fusitua on a three-year contract extension as well as signing promising young players Isaiah Papalii and Junior Pauga on new deals.

Selected in the Kiwis this week, Fusitua – 22 on October 16 – has just completed the most intensive season of his career, appearing in each one of the Vodafone Warriors’ last 18 matches after starting the campaign with five games for the club’s Intrust Super Premiership side.

The Marist Saints junior finished the year with 11 tries – including four against Newcastle at Hunter Stadium in June – to lift his career tally to 20 tries in 33 first-grade matches.

His outstanding form – averaging 136 metres with 14 line breaks – culminated in him being included as one of five newcomers in the Kiwi squad for the October 15 Test against the Kangaroos in Perth and the following Four Nations competition in England.

Another Kelston Boys’ High School product, Fusitua has been in the Vodafone Warriors’ system for several years, coming into the club’s NYC side as a 17-year-old in 2012 and going on to score 21 tries in 37 under-20 appearances across three seasons. During this time, he made his NRL debut in 2014 and was also used in the New South Wales Cup side.

“David’s a special talent and he showed that consistently throughout the 2016 season,” said new Vodafone Warriors recruitment and development manager Tony Iro.

“It was impressive seeing how well he performed every game while being moved between the wing, the centres and fullback.

“He richly deserved his selection in the Kiwis the way he played this year and he’s going to be an integral player in our group in the coming years.”

After being affected by a range of injuries in previous seasons, Fusitua said he was thrilled he was able string together a run of games.

“My goal this year was to stay on the field,” he said.

“I’ve been hampered by a few injuries over the last few years so it was good to be able to play most of the games this season. It has been a huge tick for me in terms of my personal development.

“Nothing was too new to me (playing various positions). I played a bit of everything coming up through the grades. It’s a much higher level doing it in the NRL but the boys helped me through it this year.”

While Fusitua has been signed to the end of the 2019 NRL season, the Vodafone Warriors have also secured Vodafone Junior Warriors Papalii for three years and Pauga for two years.

Mount Albert Grammar School pupil Papalii, a Te Atatu Roosters junior, has fashioned an impressive record in both rugby league and rugby union as well as being a powerlifting champion.

He was one of a host of 17-year-olds who made their NYC debuts for the Vodafone Junior Warriors this year. Selected for the Junior Kiwis in May, he played 11 NYC matches in a year when he was unavailable for much of the season due to First XV rugby union commitments with the champion Mount Albert Grammar side. MAGS won the Auckland championship and then took out the New Zealand Secondary Schools title being Hastings Boys’ High School 14-13 in the final. Used at prop by the Vodafone Junior Warriors, flanker Papalii scored Mount Albert Grammar’s only try of the final and was named the New Zealand First XV Player of the Year.

In his 11 NYC games he scored six tries while averaging 13.27 runs, 134 metres and 30.54 tackles.

Pauga (20) scored eight tries in 23 appearances in his second and last NYC season. A standout with the ball, he topped 3300 metres – an average of 146 metres a game – including 11 line breaks and an exceptional 128 tackle breaks, by far the most of any player in the side. He also debuted for club’s Intrust Super Premiership side this year.
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