He’ll be donning the red and white of Hull KR in 2021, but new signing Albert Vete comes with a wealth of NRL experience.
Born in Auckland, New Zealand in January 1993, Vete nearly missed out on rugby league altogether with the 15-man code initially taking precedence. Educated at Saint Kentigern College, the powerhouse forward captained their first XV to the Auckland title.
That incredible accolade was one of the last actions he made in rugby union before swapping to the 13-a-side game – and he hasn’t looked back since.
Signing with the New Zealand Warriors in 2012, Vete – who is of Tongan descent – starred for their under-20s side whilst simultaneously studying for a Bachelor of Physical Education at the prestigious Auckland University.
The impact was immediate with Vete being part of the Junior Warriors side that played in the 2013 Holden Cup Grand Final against the Penrith Panthers Juniors. Though the rampaging forward scored a try, the Warriors went down 42-30. Vete would go on to play for the Junior Kiwis against the Junior Kangaroos at prop in October 2013 before going to join the Warriors squad full-time the year after.
After appearing 19 times for the club in the New South Wales Cup, progression to the first-team squad wasn’t far away and by 2015, Vete had established himself as an important pack man.
The 6 ft 2, 110kg monster made 46 appearances for the Warriors before a transfer midway through 2018 took him to Melbourne Storm. Twice capped by Tonga, Vete made just eight appearances in a Storm jersey before making the move to Hull KR ahead of this season.
His education at St Kentigern’s College has stood the prop in good stead for a communicative role on the field, which Rovers fans will undoubtedly see once the Super League season kicks off. Coverage of the first XV – in which Vete made a name for himself – is now regularly broadcast back in his native New Zealand, which explains the need to be able to properly present yourself on and off the field.
The shift from the No 8 or loose-forward in the 15-man game to prop in rugby league took some getting used to for the 27-year-old, but Rovers supporters are likely to see a free-running powerhouse with a new lease of life.