Vodafone Warriors 2018 NRL Rookie of the Year Isaiah Papali’i has capped a memorable week in his career by re-signing with the club until the end of the 2020 NRL season.
On Monday the promising second rower, just turned 20, was named in the Kiwis’ squad for the coming four-Test campaign against Australia and England as well as being selected for the Junior Kiwis for their clash against the Junior Kangaroos in the Trans-Tasman Triple Header at Mount Smart Stadium on Saturday, October 13.
Today he signed a deal which will take him through to a fourth NRL campaign with the Vodafone Warriors after impressing throughout his first full first-grade season.
He joins other young Vodafone Warriors products David Fusitu’a, Ken Maumalo, Jazz Tevaga and Bunty Afoa who have all recently re-signed.
“Isaiah is a great young prospect who has quickly established himself at NRL level,” said Vodafone Warriors head coach Stephen Kearney.
“He’s a wonderful example to players aiming to make it into the NRL coming through our system. He really impresses with his attitude and resilience.”
Papali’i finished his first full NRL season with 20 appearances taking his career tally to 25 after making his debut last year.
Used mainly as a starting second rower on the left edge, Papali’i averaged an impressive 64 minutes a game this year plus 78 metres and 29 tackles along with five try assists.
He made his international debut for Toa Samoa in this year’s Pacific Test against Mate Ma’a Tonga in Sydney.
In 2016, a 17-year-old Papali’i mixed rugby league and rugby union, making 11 appearances for the Vodafone Junior Warriors in the NYC (and representing the Junior Kiwis) while also starring for Mount Albert Grammar School’s title-winning First XV. He quickly moved up to become a regular for the Vodafone Warriors’ Intrust Super Premiership side in 2017 as well as debuting in the NRL.
He’s set to join the Kiwis in camp in Auckland this weekend.
Born: September 20, 1998
Birthplace: Auckland, NZ
Junior Clubs: Te Atatu Roosters, Richmond Rovers
Position: Second Row
Rep Honours: Toa Samoa (2018), Junior Kiwis (2016, 2017)
NRL Debut: v Newcastle, Mount Smart Stadium, March 5, 2017 (Round 1)
Vodafone Warriors No: 215
NRL Career: 25 appearances (2017-2018)
NRL Points: 16 (4 tries)
ISP Career: 15 appearances (2017-2018)
ISP Points: 24 (6 tries)
NYC Career: 18 appearances (2016-2017)
NYC Points: 24 (6 tries)