Leeds Rhinos sign Fijian powerhouse from the NRL

Leeds Rhinos have signed Fijian international prop King Vuniyayawa on a one-year deal from the New Zealand Warriros.

The 25-year-old, who is a direct replacement for Ava Seumanufagai, will take up the number 19 jersey and completes the Rhinos recruitment for the 2021 season.

Vuniyayawa, who stands at 6’2”, made his NRL debut last season for the Warriors after becoming a regular for Fiji over recent years.

The no-nonsense forward grew up playing rugby union in New Zealand before Fiji’s heroics at the 2008 World Cup saw him turn his hand to league.

He signed for the Warriors from his local club Manurewa Marlins in 2018, making his first grade debut two years later as he made five appearances during the 2020 NRL campaign.

“I am excited and grateful to be joining Leeds Rhinos in 2021,” said Vuniyayawa. “I would like to thank Richard Agar for giving me this opportunity and he made the decision even easier for me to come over to play in Super League.

“I know Leeds have an extremely strong pack, I can’t wait to meet the boys and rip in.”

Head coach Richard Agar said: “I am looking forward to having King in our group. He has had to work hard to get to where he is in the game and his determination is something that appealed to us.

“He has been a good performer in lower grades for the Warriors and performed well when he made the breakthrough to the NRL this season.

“At his age and position, we think he is a player with plenty of potential in him. He carries the ball hard, has some real sting in his defence, and has good athleticism for a big guy.

“On a one-year deal, with a World Cup at the end of the year, and having spoken with King, we know we are getting a highly motivated player.”

Director of Rugby Kevin Sinfield added: “We have been looking to add another middle to our squad for next season and King perfectly fits the bill.

“King is ambitious and keen to develop during his time at Emerald Headingley. I know from the teams that I was part of, that Rhinos fans really take overseas forwards to their hearts.

“When I think back to players like Ali Lauitiiti, Brett Delaney and Kylie Leuluai who initially came over for short spells but ended up making the Rhinos their home and I know that King is keen to follow in their footsteps.”

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