Big year for grounded Vete
St Kentigern College’s motto is ‘The faith must be kept’ and its vision reads ‘… to serve and lead with distinction’. It neatly summarises Albert Vete’s NRL journey to date.
When he was at St Kentigern College, Vete was scouted by Vodafone Warriors talent Identification scout Nigel Rattray. He signed up with the club and, after impressing in the Vodafone Warriors’ highly-regarded NYC programme, he was invited into the club’s NRL squad in October 2013.
However, after completing the 2014 NRL season without securing a debut game or a fulltime contract extension, Vete was left contemplating his options. With only a part-time contract offer and seven other props in front of him – including a State of Origin representative, three Kiwis and three other recent NYC graduates – he was left to consider whether his professional playing future was back in rugby union or in a move overseas.
Fast forward 10 months and the 2015 season has seen the rise of Albert Vete as a premier rugby league product to come out of the St Kentigern College schooling system.
His belief in his ability to get it done as well as some of the values he has learnt along the way has helped elevate him as the Vodafone Warriors’ stand-out rookie prop, featuring in 19 games so far this season; in so doing he has been signed by the club for two more years.
Despite the success, Vete has been humble enough to recognise that professional rugby league has a limited shelf life so, to that end, he has nurtured an ongoing relationship with his alma mater St Kentigern College and, in particular, the school’s PE department.
Vete is in his final year of a Bachelor of Education at the University of Auckland and so finds time at the school giving back to the students but also ticking off valuable teaching experience.
The head of PE and mentor James Went, who taught Vete when he was a student at St Kentigern, notes: “Albert has been great to have around. The students really respond to him and the fact that he was once a pupil here."
Similarly, Vete has been very open about his long-term ambitions to teach at the school in the future.
“I would love to teach here one day,” he said.
“I really enjoy working with the students and the school has paid a huge part in my life. I feel I have so much to give back.”
We walk through the vast campus as Vete shares past memories of the school including the large pictorials of him as a 120kg member of both the First XV and the touch team (not sure how effective he was in the latter), it’s easy to see how grounded he has remained and how determined he is to be a winner both on and off the field.
So while some of his team-mates post on social media about the different leisurely pursuits they are enjoying on their days off, Vete is content to serve his former school as a student teacher and in so doing lead the way in terms of what a modern professional rugby league player can achieve.
· Before joining the Vodafone Warriors, Vete captained St Kentigern College’s First XV to victory in Auckland’s 1A competition in 2011. On Saturday, St Kentigern won the final for the fourth time in five years beating Auckland Grammar School 17-15.