Bradford Bulls have delighted announced the signing of rising star Vila Halafihi, who has today agreed a one-year deal with the club.
A former Leeds Rhinos academy player, 20-year-old hooker Halafihi has spent the past 12 months down under. The Hull-born talent last year opted for a move to NRL giants Penrith Panthers, where he has been successfully plying his trade in the club’s under-20s side.
However, following an “incredible” stint overseas working under former Australian international Trent Barrett, young Halafihi has opted for a move to the Provident Stadium.
“Coming home is a big step forward for my career, after a really exciting and challenging year with the Panthers,” said the son of former Hull KR, Sheffield and London forward Nick Halafihi.
“I am a massive Bradford Bulls fan, so feel absolutely privileged to have signed for such a great club. Bradford was the first team I ever supported and I want to play a part in helping return the club to its former glory.
“I have enjoyed a great apprenticeship and am privileged to say Trent Barrett has been coaching me all season. I have learned a huge amount from him. He has really added to my game.
“Joining the Bulls is a huge opportunity for me – one which I was quick to grasp. From the minute the club approached me, I have been getting excited about the prospect of working with James Lowes again. He was with the Rhinos when I was there and to have someone who has won such a long list of trophies while playing my position will be fantastic for me going forward.
“The club is doing a great job on the recruitment front, I have certainly been keeping an eye on the way the squad is shaping up. There are some exciting names already on board and there is a pretty good mix of talent in place.”
Bradford boss Lowes, who worked with Halafihi during his time at Headingley, is expecting big things from the fourteenth addition to his 2015 roster. He is hoping to see his latest recruit hit the ground running later this year, insisting he cannot wait to see the battle for the Bulls’ hooking role commence.
“We have some very talented hookers already on board and I expect Vila to only add to what they bring to the team,” explained Lowes. “Vila has a great understanding of the game. He comes with an impressive pedigree for someone of his age and, I believe, has the ability to go far.
“I fully expect him to be pushing his peers all the way for a spot in the first 17 next season, while adding a level of depth. Vila knows his way to the line and, from my time with him at Leeds, I know he has all of the right ingredients.
“He is a good all-round athlete, boasting bags of potential and ability. This is a signing I am excited about and I look forward to seeing him get stuck into pre-season training.”
Halafihi is due to arrive in the UK in October, prior to the start of pre-season training.