Signing formalities have now been completed paving the way for New Zealand captain Dallin Watene-Zelezniak to join the Vodafone Warriors immediately on a deal through to the end of the 2024 NRL season.
Now in his eighth season, the 25-year-old Hamilton-born Watene-Zelezniak adds another level of experience and leadership to the Vodafone Warriors.
He’ll be available to make his debut in the club’s next match, their 16th-round encounter with the St George Illawarra Dragons at Central Coast Stadium in Gosford on Friday, July 2 following this weekend’s standalone Origin round.
“It’s great news for our club and a terrific signing having Dallin on board,” said Vodafone Warriors head coach Nathan Brown.
“He brings speed, leadership and experience into our young group and will be a major help to our developing younger players.
“Dallin has some wonderful attributes, has a well-rounded game and is a great competitor. We look forward to him joining us for the back end of this season and three more seasons after that.”
With a total of 143 appearances for Penrith and Canterbury Bankstown, Watene-Zelezniak will link up with the Vodafone Warriors in Terrigal on the Central Coast for the rest of the 2021 campaign. He's also set to line up against his old club when he makes his first Vodafone Warriors appearance at Mount Smart Stadium in their 22nd-round match against Canterbury-Bankstown on August 15.
“It’s fantastic being able to bring the New Zealand captain into our squad,” said Vodafone Warriors CEO Cameron George.
“He’s a highly-respected leader on and off the field and will be a major asset to our club and to the community.”
In his nine appearances for the Bulldogs this year, Watene-Zelezniak averaged a career-best 167 metres a game, scored five tries and made 34 tackle breaks.
“Signing Dallin happened really quickly,” said Vodafone Warriors recruitment manager Peter O’Sullivan.
“He now has stability at our club and can settle into one position and enjoy his footy. It’s a great result to have a senior player and the New Zealand captain with us.”
After scoring two tries in his NRL debut in 2014, Watene-Zeleniak played his first Test for the Kiwis in 2016. He captained his country for the first time against the Kangaroos in a famous win at Mount Smart Stadium in 2018 and then in three Tests against England. He was again captain for the mid-year Test against Mate Ma’a Tonga in 2019 but was ruled out of the end-of-season Tests against Australia and Great Britain.
Born: August 17, 1995
Birthplace: Hamilton, NZ
Junior Clubs: College Old Boys (Hamilton, NZ), St Clair Comets (Sydney, NSW)
Previous Clubs: Penrith Panthers (2014-2019), Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs (2019-2021).
NRL Debut: Penrith Panthers v Canberra Raiders, Panthers Stadium, April 5, 2014 (Rd 5)
NRL Games: 143 (2014-2021)
Penrith Panthers: 106 (2014-2019)
Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs: 37 (2019-2021)
NRL Points: 196 (49 tries)
Representative: 12 Tests for Kiwis (2016-2019), Rugby League World Cup (2017), Māori All-Stars (2020, 2021)