VETERAN FORWARD Ali Lauitiiti has ended speculation over his future by signing a new two-year Wakefield Trinity Wildcats contract.
The former New Zealand Test ace turned 35 last month and will be 37 by the time his latest deal expires in the autumn of 2016.
Lauitiiti won four Super League Grand Finals for Leeds Rhinos during a 200-game stint at Headingley from 2004-2011.
He has consistently been among Wildcats’ top forwards since joining the club ahead of the 2012 season and was one of the try scorers in last weekend’s 42-6 thrashing of Salford Red Devils.
Lauitiiti’s previous deal was due to expire at the end of this year and he said: “I am grateful to get the opportunity to sign up again and thankful to the club.
“I have had an enjoyable three years here. They are a great bunch of boys and the coaching staff have been good.
“Spirits are high, even though we have been through some tough times.
“The boys have hung in there and stayed strong together, there is a good team spirit and I am happy to be here.”
Wildcats are in a rebuilding process under coach James Webster, but Lauitiiti is confident they will be a force in First Utility Super League next year.
“It is always sad to see boys leave, but that’s part and parcel of professional football,” he said. “But seeing the new boys that are coming in and the ones who will still be here next year, there’s good things to look forward to.”
There were fears Lauitiiti’s career could be over when he suffered a serious knee injury in a league defeat at Leeds five months ago, but coach Webster said: “Not too many teams possess players with the impact and offensive ability Ali does
“He was a big part of most of the things we did well against Salford at the weekend.
“There was a question over whether Ali was keen to do it again, but he showed a great determination and willingness to still play when he got back from his knee injury.
“We have got a player who is fully committed and I am really happy we have got him back on board.”
Webster added: “As a coach you want people who have still got a willingness and desire to improve.
“Ali’s never a second of bother. I thought he was actually fitter when he came back than before he got hurt.
“I saw how hard he worked when he was injured, he worked hard seven days a week, no days off and it shows he wants to keep playing. I am really excited about what he brings to our group.”