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Lillyman one of eight Warriors to extend contracts

Recalled Queensland State of Origin forward Jacob Lillyman has committed his immediate future to the Vodafone Warriors after signing a two-year contract until the end of the 2013 NRL season.
Lillyman one of eight Warriors to extend contracts
by NRL

Recalled Queensland State of Origin forward Jacob Lillyman has committed his immediate future to the Vodafone Warriors after signing a two-year contract until the end of the 2013 NRL season.

In confirming the 27-year-old former North Queensland second rower-turned-prop's re-signing, the club also announced today that another eight players had been secured in the NRL squad for next season or beyond.

Lillyman, now in his third season with the Vodafone Warriors, played his fifth Origin match in Wednesday night's series-opening victory over New South Wales. He hadn't played for the Maroons since 2008.

He underwent his transformation into a prop last season and, with experienced Sam Rapira on the injured list, he has now become the Vodafone Warriors' senior front rower.

After an injury-troubled 2010 restricted him to 12 appearances, Lillyman was retained on a one-year contract for 2011 and is delighted he's staying in Auckland.

"It's been a huge week personally with the thrill of playing Origin football again and now having my future with the Vodafone Warriors sorted out," he said.

"It was a massive honour to play for Queensland again after being out of Origin for a while and it was also fantastic to make the Maroons while playing for the Vodafone Warriors.

"While I had a tough year in 2010 it has been a great move coming to Auckland. I've really enjoyed living here and this club is brilliant to be part of."

Apart from Lillyman, who now has 107 NRL games behind him, Vodafone Warriors recruitment manager Dean Bell also confirmed today that another seven NRL squad members plus rising Vodafone Junior Warriors star Konrad Hurrell have been secured on one-year or two-year contracts.

Tongan second rower Ukuma Ta'ai (24), who has played 36 NRL matches, and nine-game halfback-standoff Isaac John (22) will be with the Vodafone Warriors again in 2012 while hooker Alehana Mara and utility Pita Godinet have both been signed on two-year contracts to the end of the 2013 season.

After making three NRL appearances last year, Wellingtonian Mara (21) has played five times for the Vodafone Warriors so far this year as well as turning out for the table-topping Auckland Vulcans in the New South Wales Cup. He has come up through the club's development system, playing for the Vodafone Junior Warriors in the first two years of the National Youth Competition in 2008 and 2009.

Christchurch-born Godinet (23) has been given his second contract upgrade in a matter of months. Initially on a trial contract in the off-season, his form in the club's preseason trials earned him a one-year contract for 2011 which has now been extended to two years.

While he played in three of the Vodafone Warriors' four trials against Newcastle, Parramatta and Burleigh in February, Godinet is yet to make his NRL debut. He's sidelined at the moment with an ankle injury but he has been impressive for the in-form Auckland Vulcans in the New South Wales Cup.

"We've been thrilled with Pita's efforts ever since he came into the NRL squad," said Bell.

"He has again been one of the Vulcans' best players this season and he's doing all the coaching staff expect of him. Pita's success is another great example for local players who can see there is a pathway for them here with the Vodafone Warriors."
Godinet is seen as a player who can play halfback, standoff or hooker.

"I'm stoked knowing I've got a future with the Vodafone Warriors," he said.

"I've loved every minute of being part of the NRL squad so far and it's great for my partner and for me knowing what's ahead of us."

Godinet was a standout for the Vulcans in their 2010 New South Wales Cup campaign, making the competition's team of the year as well as being named the Vulcans' player of the year. His career highlight, though, was making his Test debut for Samoa against the Kiwis at Mount Smart Stadium last October (he scored Samoa's only try).

He moved to Auckland at a young age after starting his rugby league playing days with Sydenham and Woolston in Christchurch. With his 20th birthday falling in December 2007, he was denied the chance of trying to gain a place in the inaugural Vodafone Warriors NYC squad for the 2008 season. Also a talented tag football player, he focused instead on playing for the Vulcans while pursuing his NRL dream.

Apart from Lillyman, Ta'ai, John, Mara and Godinet, the Vodafone Warriors have signed props James Gavet (21) and Saulala Houma (20) plus young centres Ivan Penehe (21) and Konrad Hurrell (19) on one-year deals.

Former Vodafone Junior Warrior Gavet and local product Houma have both been regulars this season for the Vulcans while Penehe, a Vodafone Junior Warrior last year, has started playing again after recovering from knee surgery last year.

All three have a background in rugby union - they previously played for the Kelston Boys' High School First XV ? while Hurrell is a former Auckland Grammar School First XV player.

Now in his first season of league, Hurrell has excelled as a destructive centre for the impressive Vodafone Junior Warriors in this year's NYC. In seven games he has scored five tries so far.

The nine signings confirmed today follow recent contract announcements about fullback Glen Fisiiahi, Sione and Samiuela Lousi plus Gold Coast hooker Nathan Friend while the club has also confirmed it has taken up options on prop Sam Rapira, standoff James Maloney and fullback-winger Kevin Locke.

More contract announcements are expected in the coming weeks.

JACOB LILLYMAN
Born: March 7, 1984
Birthplace: Richmond, Queensland
Position: Prop
Height: 182cm
Weight: 101kg
Junior Club: Richmond Tigers (Queensland)
Other Clubs: North Queensland Cowboys 2003-2008 (NRL)
NRL Debut: North Queensland v Newcastle, Dairy Farmers Stadium, August 9, 2003 (Round 22)
NRL Career: 107 appearances, 2003-2011
North Queensland: 62 appearances, 2003-2008
Vodafone Warriors: 45 appearances, 2009-2011
NRL Points: 20 (5 tries)
North Queensland: 12 (3 tries)
Vodafone Warriors: 8 (2 tries)
Club Number: 145
Representative: Five State of Origin matches for Queensland, 2006-2011

UKUMA TA'AI
Born: January 17, 1987
Birthplace: Nuku'alofa, Tonga
Position: Second Row/Prop
Height: 187cm
Weight: 103kg
Junior Club: Mount Albert Lions (Auckland)
Other Teams: Auckland Vulcans (New South Wales Cup)
NRL Debut: Vodafone Warriors v Manly, Brookvale Oval, March 22, 2009 (Round 2)
NRL Career: 36 appearances, 2009-2011
NRL Points: 24 (6 tries)
Club Number: 149
Representative: Four Tests for Tonga, 2009-2010

ISAAC JOHN
Born: December 12, 1988
Birthplace: Hamilton, NZ
Position: Halfback/Standoff
Height: 182cm
Weight: 86kg
Junior Club: Pacific Sharks (Tokoroa), Turangawaewae (Ngaruawahia)
Other Teams: Auckland Vulcans (New South Wales Cup), Vodafone Junior Warriors (NYC), Waicoa Bay Stallions (Bartercard Cup)
NRL Debut: Vodafone Warriors v Sydney Roosters, Sydney Football Stadium, July 19, 2009 (Round 19)
NRL Career: 9 appearances, 2009-2011
NRL Points: 5 (1 try, 1 field goal)
Club Number: 154
Representative: Junior Kiwis 2006

ALEHANA MARA
Born: November 1, 1989
Birthplace: Wellington, NZ
Position: Hooker
Height: 178cm
Weight: 86k
Junior Club: St George (Wellington)
Other Teams: Auckland Vulcans (New South Wales Cup), Vodafone Junior Warriors (NYC), Wellington Orcas (Bartercard Cup)
NRL Debut: Vodafone Warriors v Manly, Brookvale Oval, August 21, 2010 (Round 24)
NRL Career: 8 appearances, 2010-2011
NRL Points: 0
Club Number: 162
Representative: Junior Kiwis 2006

PITA GODINET
Born: December 21, 1987
Birthplace: Christchurch, New Zealand
Position: Halfback/Standoff/Hooker
Height: 177cm
Weight: 85kg
Junior Clubs: Sydenham, Woolston (Christchurch)
Other Teams: Auckland Vulcans (New South Wales Cup), Richmond Rovers (Auckland)
NRL: Yet to make debut
Representative: One Test for Samoa 2010

JAMES GAVET
Born: October 19, 1989
Birthplace: Auckland, New Zealand
Position: Prop
Height: 186cm
Weight: 105kg
Junior Club: Richmond Rovers (Auckland)
Other Teams: Auckland Vulcans (New South Wales Cup), Vodafone Junior Warriors (NYC)
NRL: Yet to make debut
Representative: Auckland Secondary Schools (rugby union), 2007

IVAN PENEHE
Born: May 24, 1990
Birthplace: Auckland, New Zealand
Position: Centre/Wing
Height: 185cm
Weight: 101kg
Junior Club: Richmond Rovers (Auckland)
Other Teams: Auckland Vulcans (New South Wales Cup), Vodafone Junior Warriors (NYC)
NRL: Yet to make debut
Representative: New Zealand Secondary Schools (rugby league), 2009

SAULALA HOUMA
Born: October 18, 1990
Birthplace: Auckland, New Zealand
Position: Prop/Second Row
Height: 187cm
Weight: 112kg
Junior Club: Mount Albert Lions (Auckland)
Other Teams: Auckland Vulcans (New South Wales Cup)
NRL: Yet to make debut
Representative: New Zealand Residents 2010

KONRAD HURRELL
Born: August 8, 1991
Birthplace: Tonga
Position: Centre/ Wing
Height: 183cm
Weight: 101kg
Junior Club: Auckland Grammar School (rugby union)
Other Teams: Vodafone Junior Warriors (NYC)
NRL: Yet to make debut
Representative: Auckland Secondary Schools (rugby union), 2010


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