Via Warriors Media
Utility forward Jazz Tevaga’s big week has been iced today with confirmation of his re-signing with the Vodafone Warriors on a one-year deal for 2019 with an option for the 2020 NRL season.
The energetic back rower/hooker, who recently turned 23, has just finished his best NRL season since his 2016 debut making 20 appearances, culminating in him being named the Interchange Player of the Year at Wednesday night’s 2018 Dally M Awards.
“We’ve been really pleased with the way Jazz has developed his game this year and were thrilled when he won the Dally M interchange award this week,” said Vodafone Warriors head coach Stephen Kearney.
“He was important to our success, the way he came off the bench to bring energy and toughness playing big minutes.”
The Christchurch-born, Papakura-raised Tevaga took his career tally to 35 appearances this season, averaging 56 minutes, 10 runs, 85 metres and 37 tackles a game.
“There were other offers but I love it here and always wanted to stay,” said Tevaga.
“We made progress this year. We have something to build on and I want to be part of our success next year and after that.”
Tevaga is a product of the club’s development pathways, originally picked up by the Vodafone Warriors after an under-20 open trial in 2013.
“We have a really good crop of young players making their way in the NRL,” said Vodafone Warriors general manager football Brian Smith.
“Jazz is another one of them who now joins David (Fusitu’a), Ken (Maumalo) and Bunty (Afoa) from that group who have re-signed.”
Tevaga became a fixture for the Vodafone Junior Warriors in 2014, going on to play at loose forward in their NYC grand final win over Brisbane when his team-mates included other current NRL squad members Nathaniel Roache, Solomone Kata, Mason Lino, Sam Lisone, James Bell, Maumalo and Afoa.
In 2015 he played another 25 games to finish his NYC career with 45 appearances, was selected for the Junior Kiwis and also made his debut in the club’s New South Wales (now Intrust Super Premiership) side.
In 2016 he made his NRL debut in the third round in a season when he mixed NRL and ISP appearances.
Last year he represented Toa Samoa at the Rugby League World Cup.
The Vodafone Warriors have secured another one of their most promising players after signing front rower Bunty Afoa to the end of the 2021 NRL season.
The Point Chevalier Pirates junior and Toa Samoa international, who turned 22 just last month, is already well-established as one of the club’s first-choice forwards. He needs only six more appearances next year to reach the 50-game milestone.
Vodafone Warriors head coach Stephen Kearney is thrilled to have Afoa locked in for another three seasons.
“Bunty has been terrific for us, even more so when you consider he was only 21 for almost the entire season,” he said.
“What he gives us is real consistency in effort and performance which makes him one of the most impressive young forwards in the game. He also brings a wonderful attitude in all he does as well and will improve even more.”
Another product out of the St Paul’s College nursery in Auckland, Afoa missed just two of the 25 matches in the club’s 2018 finals-qualifying campaign. He has appeared in 40 of a possible 49 matches in the last two seasons following his NRL debut in 2016.
“I love being part of this club and I’ve really enjoyed my football this year having the chance to play in the middle,” he said.
“I felt a lot more comfortable about my role whether it was coming off the bench or starting but I’ve got a lot more to learn and I want to do all I can to help the team do better next year.
“I feel blessed with the coaching staff and players I have around me to guide me.”
Vodafone Warriors general manager football Brian Smith said Afoa was another vital signing as the club sought to secure the players it has developed.
“Bunty is another terrific young player who has come through our nursery,” he said.
“What he has done in such a short time in the NRL is inspirational, a fine example for all young kids in this country who have dreams of making it. He’s a pleasure to have at our club in the way he conducts himself as a footballer and in the community.
“The beauty with him is that he causes no fuss. He’s always helpful, low maintenance and very coachable.”
Afoa was used 16 times off the bench and started seven games this year. He averaged 35 minutes a game, made an average 86 metres including 33 post-contact metres and 24 tackles.
He made a club record-equalling 64 NYC appearances for the Vodafone Junior Warriors from 2014-2016 and was part of the premiership-winning side in 2016.