Warriors add teen Palavi on three-year deal

DUNCAN JOHNSTONE
Last updated 12:05 16/02/2012

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The Warriors have been quick to add John Palavi's signature to that of Konrad Hurrell as they continue to build the future of New Zealand's NRL franchise.

The Auckland based club also announced that former Warrior Willie Swann is returning to Mount Smart Stadium as the new development coach.

Hurrell's contract extension had been anticipated and a deal through to 2013 has been signed.

The 19-year-old Palavi, named the club's 2011 NYC Player of the Year, has signed until the end of 2014 and also been upgraded to join the NRL squad full-time from now on.

Swann, who played for the club's colts and reserve grade sides in 1995-1996, takes over the critical development coaching role from Ricky Henry, who has been signed to coach the Auckland Vulcans in the New South Wales Cup this season.

Hurrell, born in Tonga, was signed from rugby union after being spotted playing for the Auckland Grammar School First XV. He had an exceptional first season in rugby league in 2011, making a major contribution to the Junior Warriors' second successive NYC premiership.

A destructive ball runner, he scored 22 tries in 21 matches - including two in the grand final - and made an astonishing 268 tackle breaks as well as dominating other statistical categories. Named in the competition's team of the year, he moved into the club's NRL squad for the 2012 season and immediately impressed at the higher level, scoring a try in each of the trial wins against Gold Coast and South Sydney in past two weeks.

He was used predominantly on the wing in his first trial and in the centres last week; he is lining up again in the Warriors' final trial against the Sunshine Coast Sea Eagles at Toll Stadium in Whangarei this Saturday.

Palavi was a standout all-round student at St Paul's College, New Zealand's premier rugby league nursery. Studying to become a doctor, 2011 Junior Kiwi Palavi is again eligible for what will be his fourth season in the NYC, a feat achieved by a select group since the competition was introduced in 2008. Usually a back rower, he has been included in the NRL squad for Saturday's trial. 

Warriors head coach Brian McClennan said Hurrell and Palavi were perfect examples of the rich reservoir of local talent the club invested in.

"Konrad has been fantastic ever since he came into the NRL squad for the start of our off-season training in November," he said.

"He has done everything asked of him and has really taken his opportunities. He has also been a real pleasure off the field, a young man who is enjoying the whole experience. John has a huge future in every respect and he, too, has impressed everyone with the way he has worked during the off-season. He deserves this opportunity."

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Swann is one of three from the family with connections with the Warriors. While he didn't play at first-grade level for the club, his brother Anthony and cousin Logan both did as well as playing for the Kiwis. Only Stacey Jones (261) tops Logan Swann's 195 appearances for the Vodafone Warriors.

Usually a halfback, Willie Swann pursued coaching after a playing career which was highlighted by professional stints in England with Warrington Wolves (1996-1998), Rochdale Hornets (1999-2000) and Leigh Centurions (2000-2005). A Junior Kiwi in 1993, he represented Toa Samoa at the 1995 and 2000 World Cups.

Swann is also a qualified teacher, who has been working at Liston College in Auckland. He coached the East Coast Bays Barracudas in the Auckland club competition from 2009-2011 and last year he was appointed as head coach at his old club Marist for the 2012 season.

- Stuff

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