Promising centre Viliami Vailea has secured his future with the Vodafone Warriors until 2025 after signing a two-year contract extension.
A schoolboy rugby union star, Vailea made his NRL debut as an 18-year-old in the Vodafone Warriors’ 18-16 win over Wests Tigers at Suncorp Stadium last July.
He also faced Cronulla Sutherland in another 18-16 victory a week later before starting the 2022 campaign as one of the first-choice centres but was then side lined with a minor knee injury.
“Vili is another of our young players who’s a big part of our future,” said Vodafone Warriors general manager football Craig Hodges.
“He’s a quality footballer, skilful and aggressive who has adapted really well to rugby league after coming out of a rugby union background.
“He had a great preseason to earn selection as one of our starting centres this year and we couldn’t be happier with the way he’s progressing.”
Vailea, who has averaged 84 metres a game in his three NRL appearances, captured major interest with his deeds for Aorere College in Auckland's highly regarded First XV rugby union competition. Rated among New Zealand's best players at secondary school level, he won his school's top individual sporting award.
Signed by the Vodafone Warriors, he featured in the club’s first foray into the New South Wales Rugby League's S G Ball Cup (under-18). Before the campaign was cut short by the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, Vailea made three appearances, scoring two tries.
He was among the club's promising young players taken to Australia with the wider squad for the 2021 season.
Vailea has been developed with feeder club Redcliffe in Queensland's competition; in 14 games he has scored eight tries, averaged 106 metres a game, made seven line breaks and 55 tackle breaks.
|Date of birth||November 17, 2002|
|Birthplace||Vaini, Tongatapu, Tonga|
|Junior clubs||Aorere College (rugby union), Vodafone Warriors under-18s, Redcliffe Dolphins|
|Vodafone Warriors #||264|
|NRL debut||Vodafone Warriors v Wests Tigers, Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane, July 30, 2021 (Rd 20)|
|NRL career||3 appearances (2021-2022)|
|Queensland Cup career||14 appearances (2021-2022)|
|Queensland Cup points||40 (8 tries, 4 goals)|