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Ex-Salford Red Devils star Manu Vatuvei given lengthy jail term after being found guilty of importing drugs

Former New Zealand and Salford Red Devils rugby league star Manu Vatuvei has been sentenced to three years and seven months in prison for importing methamphetamine.

The 36-year-old pleaded guilty in the Manukau District Court in Auckland last year to a single, representative charge of importing a Class A drug.

The offence carried a potential life sentence.

Appearing in Manukau District Court on Wednesday, Vatuvei’s lawyer Vivienne Feyen said from the age of 16 her client lived in the “structured environment” of professional sport and had guidance and support.

Ms Feyen said Vatuvei was “ill-equipped” to make “fundamental life transitions” after he retired from rugby league.

“That goes to the heart of his decision-making process, his reasoning,” she said.

“He has fallen from grace. Not a little, but a long way.”

Vatuvei was charged with both possessing the drug for supply as well as importing it, though he previously denied the charges.

The Warriors icon was charged in December 2019 with possessing methamphetamine for supply and importing the Class A drug.

Vatuvei appeared at Manukau District Court in October where he admitted a representative charge of importing methamphetamine.

Judge Jonathan Moses then convicted the former explosive winger of the charges and granted his application for bail on a curfew, until sentencing today alongside his brother.

Vatuvei retired from professional rugby league due to injury in 2017, after a career spanning more than 13 years.

The powerful winger played eight games for Salford in Super League over a period of two seasons.

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