The Warriors have warded off reported interest from rival NRL clubs to secure the services of front-rower Sam Lisone until the end of the 2020 season.
Lisone was set to come off contract at the end of 2018 and were taking no chances in locking him down for another two years. The announcement came on the Otahuhu Leopards junior’s 24th birthday.
“We’re delighted we’ve been able to keep Sam here despite interest from other clubs,” Warriors general manager football Brian Smith told the Warriors’ website.
“He’s another example of a player who has come through our system and has developed into a really important member of our NRL squad. He now has the opportunity to step up to the next level and to continue improving his game.”
A co-captain of the Warriors’ 2014 NYC premiership-winning team, Auckland-born Lisone made his NRL debut in the opening round of the 2015 season. He has already racked up 63 first-grade appearances – including eight run-on games at prop, two at lock and 53 coming off the bench – missing just nine games since breaking into the top flight.
Lisone has also played four Tests for Samoa from 2015-17, including two games at last year’s Rugby League World Cup. He started at prop against six current and former Warriors teammates in Samoa’s tournament-opening loss to New Zealand at Mt Smart Stadium.
The 104kg powerhouse is still searching for his maiden NRL try, but in 2017 he averaged a solid 85 metres and 23 tackles per game after featuring in the starting front-row for the final six rounds of the season.
“It’s awesome knowing I have another two years here,” Lisone said.
“I’ve learned so much at the club over the last few years from the experienced players in the squad and it’s been great having Blairy here to help the younger forwards like me. Now it’s time to step up and take on more responsibility.”
The extension is a reflection of Lisone’s standing at the club and amongst the coaching staff; with stalwarts Ben Matulino, Jacob Lillyman and Charlie Gubb departing, the time has arrived for the mobile, aggressive bookend to step into a senior role.
But Lisone cannot afford a drop-off in form or to take his spot for granted with Adam Blair and Agnatius Paasi joining the club, James Gavet returning from injury, and 2017 NSW Cup regulars Albert Vete, Ligi Sao and Chris Satae all gunning for front-row berths in the Warriors’ first-choice 17.
In other NRL signing news, NSW Origin skipper Boyd Cornder has signed a bumper five-year extension with the Sydney Roosters, tying him to the heavyweight club until the end of 2023.