Ali Lauitiiti has become the latest man to extend his stay at Wakefield Trinity Wildcats after penning a two-year deal that will keep him at the club until the end of 2016.
The 35-year old signed for Wakey ahead of the 2012 season and has been an influential figure for the club in his 60 Super League appearances.
A former New Zealand international, Lauitiiti has made the second highest number of offloads for the Wildcats in 2014 despite only making 14 appearances having sustained a knee injury at the home of former club Leeds Rhinos in April. Lauitiiti returned to action in July and crossed for his fourth try of the season in the 42-6 win over Salford Red Devils last Sunday.
A five-time Grand Final winner who has also enjoyed World Club Challenge glory during his time at the Rhinos, Lauitiiti will add to his 224 Super League appearances after following Nick Scruton, Scott Anderson, Reece Lyne, Danny Washbrook and Daniel Smith in renewing their contracts at the Rapid Solicitors Stadium.
“I’m grateful to get the opportunity to sign up again and thankful to the club,” said Lauitiiti. “It’s been an enjoyable three years. It’s a great bunch of boys and the coaching staff are good so although we’ve had some tough times, the boys have stuck together and had a good team spirit.”
After an often disrupted pre-season during Lauitiiti’s three years at the club, the Wildcats look better prepared for 2015 with Lopini Paea, Mickael Simon, Craig Hall and Matty Ashurst already recruited for next season. Lauitiiti believes a more settled preparation to the next campaign can only prove beneficial.
“It’s massive to get that chance to do pre-season as a whole squad. Last season there were people coming in dribs and drabs so it’s good for the coaching staff but also for the squad to have that luxury.
“It’s a matter of training hard and being ready for the new season when it comes. I know we’ll be well prepared because Webby (James Webster) and Stu (Dickens, assistant coach) have been planning and it’ll be good.
“The supporters have been really great for the last few years that I’ve been here. We couldn’t have done it without their help and support so thanks to them for supporting us and hopefully we’ll see them all next year again.”
“Not too many teams possess players with the impact and offensive ability that Ali does,” commented Webster.
“Ali showed a great determination and willingness to play when he got back from his knee injury so we’ve got a player who is fully committed and I’m really happy we’ve got him on board.
“I’m really excited about what he brings to our group. There are very few people over the last ten years that have been able to make an impact in Super League like he has.”