The Vodafone Warriors have secured another one of their most promising players after signing front rower Bunty Afoa to the end of the 2021 NRL season.
The Point Chevalier Pirates junior and Toa Samoa international, who turned 22 just last month, is already well-established as one of the club’s first-choice forwards. He needs only six more appearances next year to reach the 50-game milestone.
Vodafone Warriors head coach Stephen Kearney is thrilled to have Afoa locked in for another three seasons.
“Bunty has been terrific for us, even more so when you consider he was only 21 for almost the entire season,” he said.
“What he gives us is real consistency in effort and performance which makes him one of the most impressive young forwards in the game. He also brings a wonderful attitude in all he does as well and will improve even more.”
Another product out of the St Paul’s College nursery in Auckland, Afoa missed just two of the 25 matches in the club’s 2018 finals-qualifying campaign. He has appeared in 40 of a possible 49 matches in the last two seasons following his NRL debut in 2016.
“I love being part of this club and I’ve really enjoyed my football this year having the chance to play in the middle,” he said.
“I felt a lot more comfortable about my role whether it was coming off the bench or starting but I’ve got a lot more to learn and I want to do all I can to help the team do better next year.
“I feel blessed with the coaching staff and players I have around me to guide me.”
Vodafone Warriors general manager football Brian Smith said Afoa was another vital signing as the club sought to secure the players it has developed.
“Bunty is another terrific young player who has come through our nursery,” he said.
“What he has done in such a short time in the NRL is inspirational, a fine example for all young kids in this country who have dreams of making it. He’s a pleasure to have at our club in the way he conducts himself as a footballer and in the community.
“The beauty with him is that he causes no fuss. He’s always helpful, low maintenance and very coachable.”
Afoa was used 16 times off the bench and started seven games this year. He averaged 35 minutes a game, made an average 86 metres including 33 post-contact metres and 24 tackles.
He made a club record-equalling 64 NYC appearances for the Vodafone Junior Warriors from 2014-2016 and was part of the premiership-winning side in 2016.
Born: August 20, 1996
Birthplace: Auckland, NZ
Junior Club: Point Chevalier Pirates
Rep Honours: 5 Tests for Toa Samoa (2016-2018), 2017 Rugby League World Cup
Club and FG Debut: v Gold Coast Titans, Mount Smart Stadium, July 2, 2016 (Rd 17)
NRL Career: 44 appearances (2016-2018)
NRL Points: 12 (3 tries)
Intrust Super Premiership Career: 10 appearances (2015-2017)
Intrust Super Premiership Points: 12 points (3 tries)
NYC Career: 64 games (2014-2016)
NYC Points: 48 (12 tries)