Player Viliami Vailea

mt.wellington

mt.wellington

Warriors Orange Peeler
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Viliami Vailea

Viliami couldn't help but capture attention 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 not only played First XV rugby union for Aorere College last year but he also featured for the Vodafone Warriors in the New South Wales Rugby League's S G Ball Cup (under-18). While the club's debut in the renowned S G Ball was cut short by the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, Vailea made three appearances, scoring two tries.

He joined the Vodafone Warriors' NRL squad for preseason training last November and was among the club's promising young players taken to Australia with the wider squad in the New Year to prepare for the 2021 season.

Viliami joined the squad's non-playing first graders and other players appearing for feeder club Redcliffe in the Queensland Rugby League's Intrust Super Cup. The competition was disrupted by another Covid outbreak in July but up to that point Viliami had impressed, scoring six tries in eight games, averaging 104 metres a game and making 30 tackle breaks and five line breaks.

He was initially named as 18th man for the Vodafone Warriors' 20th-round NRL contest against the Wests Tigers but was elevated to the game day squad at right centre to become Warrior #264.
 
mt.wellington

mt.wellington

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VILIAMI VAILEA DEBUT TELLS THE JUNIOR PATHWAY STORY

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Late last year Viliami Vailea earned the 'Best All-Round Sports Boy' award at Aorere College and now he's the 13th Kiwi-NRL debutant of 2021 - remember there were 14 Kiwi-NRL debuts in 2020. Through the journey of Vailea we can clearly suss out some key factors of NZ Warriors development and considering some other mayhem, it's still a minor miracle that the Warriors are toiling away.

Before swinging into the Vailea journey, consider these facts...

2020 MID-SEASON DEPARTURES​

David Fusitua, Ken Maumalo, Agnatius Paasi, King Vuniyayawa, Leivaha Pulu - Returned to NZ.

2021 MID-SEASON DEPARTURES​

Ken Maumalo - Tigers.
Karl Lawton - Sea Eagles.
Hayze Perham - Eels.
Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, Leeson Ah Mau - Returned to NZ.

Five mid-season departures in each of the last two seasons is not conducive to winning NRL footy games. Other NRL clubs may have one or two mid-season departures through the messy player market, yet I'm fairly confident that no other club has bid farewell to five players in each of the last two seasons though.

Consider how the Warriors have not played a game in Aotearoa because of Australia's weird covid vibes and nothing about what the Warriors are dealing with is fair. Such is life when the dark arts of a sporting curse are at work.

Even with Fusitu'a returning to the squad this year, he has not played a games since round five. In professional sports chemistry is an advantage, intuitive reactions and combinations make everything easier. In losing five players mid-season, chemistry and combinations are obviously much harder to build.

That brings us to Vailea.

Last year Vailea played three games of SG Ball (Under 18s), before moving into the 1st 15 season with Aorere College. High School Top 200 hasn't updated their rankings from last year and apparently you have to sign up to view anything apart from the rankings from last year which means you can still head to this page and see Vailea ranked 8th in Aotearoa for 1st 15 players.

Vailea went from 1st 15 rugby to Intrust Super Cup (reserve grade) with Redcliffe Dolphins in the space of six months. A kid from high school put up the following stats in ISC footy against fringe NRL players...

8 games, 6 tries, 5 linebreaks, 30 tackle busts, 83.7% tackle efficiency.

That's an extremely swift rise, although not quite as swift as Taniela Otukolo. Last year Otukolo played six games of SG Ball and even popped up for a few games in Auckland's Fox Memorial for Otahuhu. Otukolo made his NRL debut having only played Under 21s with Redcliffe Dolphins and this means that Otukolo skipped the whole reserve grade stepping stone, making his current NRL experience bonkers.

Then we have Rocco Berry who joined NZ Warriors from St Pat's Silverstream 1st 15 ahead of the 2020 season. Berry started at fullback in round one of the Warriors NSW Cup reserve grade season before the pandemic halted all non-NRL footy. This is the same as what's happening now as NSW Cup footy has stopped, yet Queensland's ISC competition keeps rolling and the Warriors are fortunate to have that Redcliffe relationship.

Prior to Berry's NRL debut in round seven, he had played three games of reserve grade and factoring trial games - Berry had played a handful of rugby league games. Take that one game of NSW Cup from last year, then Berry played two more games of ISC footy this year and somehow the Warriors have had Otukolo step up without any reserve grade footy, plus Berry with less than five games of reserve grade.

The other Warriors homegrown debutant this year is Edward Kosi who has had a more typical rise through the pathways despite popping up late on the Jersey Flegg radar (Under 20s). Through these Warriors youngsters we have examples of the recruitment of rugby league and 1st 15 talent, plus the vast impact of the pandemic stated above with the mid-season departures is evident here with these lads stepping into NRL with minimal reserve grade experience.

With Vailea coming from Aorere College, Berry from St Pat's Silverstream, Otukolo from Otahuhu and Kosi from Mangere East; the trend of Kiwi-NRL debutants coming from everywhere except the big Auckland clubs (who just want to win on Saturdays) continues.

Then we have the simple fact that NZ Warriors have continued to prioritise development despite being stretched across two different countries. No other NRL club has had five mid-seasons departures, let alone twice and no other NRL club has their development pipelines stretched across two different countries. The Warriors have done a fine job in collaborating with Redcliffe Dolphins to usher Vailea, Berry, Otukolo and Kosi into the NRL.

Remember that the Warriors have their Future Warriors set up in Aotearoa, as well as having the likes of Zyon Maiu'u, Jacob Laban, Ali Leiataua, Francis Manulelua and more in 1st 15 rugby. At the same time, the Warriors have Eric Va'afusuaga, William Fakatoumafi, Daeon Amituanai, Jryis Glamuzina, Temple Kalepo and Lleyton Finau dabbling in Dolphins U21s footy. The Kepu twins have stepped up from U21s to ISC in recent weeks and Preston Riki has been a consistent presence in the Dolphins ISC forward pack.

The curse is still working it's dark magic and we'll see how this plays into the Warriors chase of top-eight footy. The path out of this darkness does seem to be emerging though with finely tuned pipelines flooding talent into the Warriors NRL roster as things will hopefully settle down come next season.

 
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mt.wellington

mt.wellington

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264. VILIAMI VAILEA

Vailea extends contract to end of 2025 NRL season

Richard Becht & photosport.nz
Fri 22 Apr 2022, 09:59 AM
Screenshot 2022 12 24 103916 AM

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.”

Viliami vailea 1k

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.

VILIAMI VAILEA

Date of birthNovember 17, 2002
BirthplaceVaini, Tongatapu, Tonga
Junior clubsAorere College (rugby union), Vodafone Warriors under-18s, Redcliffe Dolphins
PositionCentre
Height185cm
Weight98kg
Vodafone Warriors #264
NRL debutVodafone Warriors v Wests Tigers, Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane, July 30, 2021 (Rd 20)
NRL career3 appearances (2021-2022)
NRL points0
Queensland Cup career14 appearances (2021-2022)
Queensland Cup points40 (8 tries, 4 goals)


Screenshot 2022 12 24 104212 AM
Height: 185 cm
Date of Birth: 17 November 2002
Weight: 98 kg
Birthplace: Vaini, Tongatapu, Tonga
Age: 20
Debut Club: New Zealand Warriors
Date: 30 July 2021
Opposition: Wests Tigers
Round: 20
Junior Clubs: Aorere College (rugby union), Vodafone Warriors under-18s, Redcliffe Dolphins

Biography:
Viliami couldn't help but capture attention 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 not only played First XV rugby union for Aorere College last year but he also featured for the Vodafone Warriors in the New South Wales Rugby League's S G Ball Cup (under-18). While the club's debut in the renowned S G Ball was cut short by the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, Vailea made three appearances, scoring two tries.

He joined the Vodafone Warriors' NRL squad for preseason training last November and was among the club's promising young players taken to Australia with the wider squad in the New Year to prepare for the 2021 season.

Viliami joined the squad's non-playing first graders and other players appearing for feeder club Redcliffe in the Queensland Rugby League's Intrust Super Cup. The competition was disrupted by another Covid outbreak in July but up to that point Viliami had impressed, scoring six tries in eight games, averaging 104 metres a game and making 30 tackle breaks and five line breaks.

He was initially named as 18th man for the Vodafone Warriors' 20th-round NRL contest against the Wests Tigers but was elevated to the game day squad at right centre to become Warrior #264.

 

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