Tuimavave signs until 2009

Impressive Vodafone Warriors prop Evarn Tuimavave has ended speculation about his future by signing a new three-year contract to stay with the Auckland club until the end of the 2009 NRL season.

Tuimavave, who turns 22 on June 28, had attracted interest from other clubs but said he?d always wanted to extend his stay with the Vodafone Warriors.

?This is the club that gave me a start in the NRL and Auckland is home so that was a big attraction to stay,? he said.

?I?m really enjoying my football this year and feel I?m making progress after being given an opportunity by Ivan (Cleary) and John (Ackland).

?There?s a good feeling around the club and the future looks good.? Tuimavave, whose uncle is Vodafone Warriors original Tony Tuimavave, is in his fifth season as an NRL player but has established himself at first-grade level only this year. Head coach Ivan Cleary said the young prop had made the most of the opportunities handed to him this year.

?There was an opening for Evarn to establish himself as an important part of the squad and he?s done that,? he said. ?He has an important part to play in the club?s future as we look to develop a side to take us forward. I?m thrilled he?s staying here.

?The best thing for Evarn is that he?s learning from two of the best props in the game in Steve Price and Ruben Wiki.

?When they finish up, he?s in an ideal position to be able to step in as a first-choice prop. It?s now up to him to continue making improvements to his game.?

Signing the off-contract Tuimavave ahead of the June 30 anti-tampering deadline adds to a long list of players who have signed new or extended contracts with the Vodafone Warriors in the last two months.

Experienced Ruben Wiki and Tony Martin have agreed terms to lengthen their stays while emerging first-graders Manu Vatuvei, Simon Mannering and Grant Rovelli have long-term deals to remain in Auckland. Also signed is 21-year-old Sydney Roosters utility Aidan Kirk.

?We are trying to build depth in our squad and we?re also looking to continue the process of recruiting young players and developing them into first graders. We?re making good progress in those areas,? said Cleary. Tuimavave makes his 40th NRL appearance when the Vodafone Warriors face Newcastle at Ericsson Stadium tomorrow.

While he made his debut late in the successful 2002 season, he was used only sparingly as an interchange forward until this year, accumulating just 26 games and a mere two last year.

This year he has played all 13 of the club?s matches and has also had the experience of starting in first grade games for the first time. With the increased exposure has come more playing minutes and impressive statistics; he has averaged 22 tackles and almost 13 hit-ups a game this season while he has also scored three tries and created others.

EVARN TUIMAVAVE

Born: June 28, 1984 Birthplace: Auckland Position: Prop Height: 183cm Weight: 108kg Junior Club: Richmond (Auckland) NRL Debut: Vodafone Warriors v Manly, Brookvale Oval, September 1, 2002 (Round 25) NRL Career: Vodafone Warriors ? 39 games NRL Points: 22 (5 tries, 1 goal) Educated: Mt Roskill Grammar School, St Paul?s College

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