Ex-Leeds Rhinos and Bradford Bulls forward signs new deal at Hunslet
Former Leeds Rhinos academy player Vila Halafihi has agreed a new one-year contract with Hunslet.
Halafihi came through Rhinos’ system and now works for the club’s foundation.
The 26-year-old had four seasons at Bradford Bulls, helping them secure promotion to the Betfred Championship, before joining Hunslet ahead of the 2019 campaign.
He was Parksiders’ player of the year and coach’s player of the year last season and is the second key man to re-sign, following skipper Duane Straugheir.
The hooker/loose-forward admitted he has “unfinished business” with Hunslet after the 2020 season was abandoned just two rounds in, with the Parksiders top of Betfred League One.
He said: “We’d started really well, GT [coach Gary Thornton] had put a very strong squad together and we were starting to show what we could achieve, but it all came to a halt and we’ll just have to pick up where we left off.”
Halafihi can also fill in as a second-rower or stand-off and his versatility makes him a key member of Thornton’s squad.
“I don’t really mind where I play,” he insisted. “Nothing’s guaranteed at Hunslet, we’ve a strong squad and there’s lots of competition for places, which is exactly what a club needs.
“It keeps everyone on their toes and giving their best.”
He added: “On balance, I suppose I prefer playing at hooker, where I have the opportunity to control things more, but the main thing is that I play well enough to earn a place in the side and that we earn promotion in 2021.”
Assessing Halahifi’s value, Thornton said: “He has grown and improved as a player and has become an increasingly valuable member of our group.
“It was important to get him on board for next season as he is a vital part of the team make-up.
“He has a really professional approach to his game, is continuously striving to improve himself and works really hard at achieving that.
“He is equally at home at hooker or loose-forward and is another important signing for us. Vila is a winner, hates losing and is a valuable asset for us going into what promises to be another really competitive League One season.”
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