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King's Tribute To Marlins After Leeds Signing

Upon signing with UK Super League side the Leeds Rhinos this week, Manurewa Marlins junior King Vuniyayawa took time to thank the south Auckland club for helping him to achieve his dream.

The 25-year-old forward appeared for Manurewa in Auckland's Crown Lift Trucks Fox Championship as recently as 2019, before going on to make his NRL debut in 2020, playing five first-grade games with the New Zealand Warriors before suffering a season-ending broken hand.

Vuniyayawa, who is a capped Fijian international, also played first-division league with Howick and Papakura prior to making his NRL debut.

Accompanied by his agent from Aria Management Group, Jordan Friend – who is the brother of Howick Hornets premier captain Jethro Friend and the son of Auckland legend Clayton Friend – Vuniyayawa signed his new contract at the Marlins' headquarters at Mountfort Park and paid tribute to the club.

"I’d like to thank the Manurewa Marlins… they’re pretty much my family," Vuniyayawa said.

"I played my first game of league at 18 for the Manurewa Marlins and fell in love with the sport and never looked back.

"It’s been a tough journey, but I was very fortunate to make a dream of mine come true – playing NRL – last year."

Marlins chairperson Darrell Woodhouse said the whole club was celebrating Vuniyayawa's news.

"We're really proud of King and excited to know he's getting an opportunity over at Leeds," Woodhouse said.

"From the day he arrived at the club he's been a real humble and down to earth kid, so it didn't surprise me when he asked to come down to the club to sign his contract.”

King Vuniyayawa - left - and Manurewa Marlins chairperson Darrell Woodhouse. Credit - Aria Management Group - Bodie Friend

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