New signing King Vuniyayawa reveals his Leeds Rhinos heroes - and the past player who advised him to join the club
Leeds Rhinos' new signing King Vuniyayawa has revealed he was a big fan of club legends Rob Burrow and Kevin Sinfield during their playing days.
And the Fijian forward, who arrived in Yorkshire this week, said words of encouragement from former Rhinos player Matt Adamson contributed to him joining Leeds.
Vuniyayawa has penned a one-year deal after leaving New Zealand Warriors, where he made five NRL appearances last season.
The front-rower - who is now in quarantine at Headingley Lodge, the hotel in Rhinos’ home stadium - said he was a keen observer of Super League when Rhinos were the competition’s dominant side.
“I used to watch a lot when Kevin Sinfield and Robbie Burrow used to play, back in 2008-9-10,” he told an online media conference yesterday.
“I was a young kid studying the game and I watched a lot of footy then.
“I didn’t really know they played for Leeds, but they were pretty much the main two players I used to watch.
“Those two really caught my eye when they were playing. Rob was a little, sneaky half, ducking through everything - that used to blow my mind.
“I used to think ‘oh wow’ and Kevin as well, he was one of the main characters in the team.
“And Ryan Hall, I used to watch him as well and some of the other boys.”
Sinfield is now Rhinos’ director of rugby and one of this year’s kits is dedicated to Burrow and his fight with motor neurone disease.
Adamson, a fans’ favourite during his time at Rhinos from 2002-2004, coached Vuniyayawa when he made his Fiji Test debut three years ago
“He said ‘I really enjoyed it and you will love it, with the fans and how the club will treat you’,” Vuniyayawa said.
“I really rate Matt Adamson, he gave me my international debut for Fiji and I really trust his words.”
As a new arrival in the country, Vuniyayawa will have to complete five days in isolation and then give a negative test for coronavirus before being cleared to meet his new teammates.
At the moment, he is Headingley Lodge’s only guest, with an entire floor to himself. Staff have installed a makeshift gym and living room and he has a full-stocked fridge.
“My body is still adjusting to the time difference, but the club has been amazing, I am grateful for what they’ve done,” Vuniyayawa said.
“They have made it easy for me. I was really looking forward to coming over and I can’t wait to get on the pitch with the boys.
“I know the competition here is not any different to the NRL, I rate it very high.”
If all goes well, Vuniyayawa will start training with Rhinos at the start of next week and is excited about what the team could achieve.
“This is a really strong club and I really think we are going to go pretty good this year,” he said.
“I just want to show what I can do, I have a really good feeling about this year with the boys.”
He described himself as a “a team player” and added: “I like to do what I can to help out the team.
“I am looking forward to seeing what the coaching staff can bring out of me.
“I want to be the best player I can be, that’s what I am looking forward to right now.
“I reckon I will enjoy my footy over here a lot.”
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