Lauaki retained by Warriors on new contract

Epalahame Lauaki is the latest off-contract player to be re-signed by the Vodafone Warriors.

The club today confirmed the 22-year-old back rower has a new deal for the 2007 National Rugby League season with an option for 2008.

Vodafone Warriors head coach Ivan Cleary was especially pleased Lauaki had received some good news in a challenging season that has seen him sidelined for more than three months with injury.

?This is a huge positive for Hame in what?s been a tough year for him,? said Cleary.

?He put in plenty of work in the off-season and in our pre-season trials and was showing real improvement early in our NRL campaign.

?His injury was a big setback but his attitude has been outstanding since then. He has done everything asked of him in his recovery and rehabilitation.?

Lauaki?s plans to establish himself as a regular in 2006 were disrupted after appearing in each of the Vodafone Warriors? first three matches of the season.

He needed surgery after tearing pectoral muscles in his right shoulder during the win over Wests Tigers in Christchurch on March 25.

?Hame?s on schedule to be available again soon,? said Cleary.
?He has plenty to offer us and now he?s in a position to be able to start again and put pressure on others in the squad, which is just what we need.?

Lauaki burst onto the NRL scene in the Vodafone Warriors? opening match of the 2004 season against Brisbane, going on to make 16 appearances and score four tries in his rookie year.
Born in Tonga and younger brother of All Black loose forward Sione, he was used in only five matches last season.

Apart from Lauaki, other players who have signed new contracts or extensions with the Vodafone Warriors in recent weeks include Ruben Wiki, Simon Mannering, Tony Martin, Grant Rovelli, Evarn Tuimavave and Manu Vatuvei plus Aidan Kirk from the Sydney Roosters and Central Falcons brothers Russell and Paora Packer.

EPALAHAME LAUAKI

Born: January 27, 1984
Birthplace: Tonga
Position: Second row
Height: 184cm
Weight: 110kg
Junior Club: Glenora (Auckland)
NRL Debut: Vodafone Warriors v Brisbane, Suncorp Stadium, March 14, 2004
NRL Career: Vodafone Warriors ? 24 games
NRL Points: 16 (4 tries)
Educated: Kelston Boys? High School

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