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Gifted back rower Feleti Mateo today signed a new three-year contract to remain with the Vodafone Warriors until the end of the 2016 NRL season.
The two-time NRL All Star, off-contract at the end of the season, was courted by several clubs but has rejected their advances to stretch his time with the Vodafone Warriors to at least six years.
His signing comes a little more than 48 hours ahead of a landmark moment in his career when he makes his 150th NRL appearance in the Vodafone Warriors’ 10th-round encounter with Penrith at Centrebet Stadium on Saturday (7.35pm kick-off; 9.30pm NZT).
“There were other offers but there’s so much more I want to achieve with the team and the coaching staff at the Vodafone Warriors,” he said today.
“Making the move to this club has helped me to develop as a player and I know there’s a lot more room for improvement, too. I’ve also grown as a person since joining the club.
“My wife Michele and I have our first baby due in September and that made the decision extremely difficult but I’m really excited about our future here.
“We’ve got a great group of players and there’s loads of tremendous young talent coming through. I’d also like to play a leadership role in their development.
“I like what (head coach) Matt (Elliott) has put in place, the staff he has around him and the plans he has.
“This is a great club and I want to make a big contribution to our future.”
Head coach Matthew Elliott said re-signing Mateo was a major step forward for the club.
“It’s a highly significant statement that Feleti has committed himself to us,” he said.
“He’s a quality player and knows what we’re trying to achieve here. I’m excited to know he’ll be with us for another three years as we strive to take the Vodafone Warriors forward.”
Vodafone Warriors general manager football operations Dean Bell said Mateo’s re-signing was a major recruitment success following Manu Vatuvei’s re-signing last week on a new two-year term and the announcement on Sunday that Cronulla back rower Jayson Bukuya would be joining the club next season on a two-year contract.
“It’s a good sign to have Feleti secured for another three years and to have Jayson coming over as well,” he said.
“We know there are challenges securing players out of Australia at times but Feleti and Jayson have shown there are players who are really keen to come to our club and be a part of the great things we have to offer.
“Feleti loves living here in New Zealand. It was a big factor in him staying.”
Mateo signed his first three-year deal with the club in May 2010, making his debut against his former Parramatta team-mates in the Vodafone Warriors’ opening game of the 2011 season at Eden Park.
Since then he has put together an unbroken run of 61 matches, the only player who has appeared in for the Vodafone Warriors in that period