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Warriors keep hold of juniors through 2025

Tom Ale during a New Zealand One Warriors training session
Tom Ale extends contract with the Warriors. Photo: Alan Lee / www.photosport.nz

Bunty Afoa and Tom Ale recommit to Warriors through the 2025 NRL season.

Both players began as juniors with the Warriors and are seen as role models for those players wanting to follow in their footsteps.

Front rower Afoa became the 28th member on the club's 100-game roll of honour when he brought up the landmark in last year's Mount Smart Stadium homecoming clash against the Wests Tigers.

After a delayed start to the 2022 season following ACL surgery, fellow front rower Ale ended the campaign with strong displays in each of the Warriors' last four matches.

Warriors head coach Andrew Webster said both players demonstrated "real pride in the club and all they do".

"Bunty was a junior when I was first here and it has been a thrill to watch him develop into a seasoned and consistent first grader while Tom has been hampered by injury but has done everything in the preseason to indicate he'll be an asset."

As general manager recruitment, development and pathways, former Warriors head coach Andrew McFadden said the pair were showing the way for the next generation.

Warriors prop Bunty Afoa in Rotorua
Bunty Afoa. Photo: Photosport Ltd 2018 www.photosport.nz

"Bunty was a fantastic player for us in the NYC and it was an honour to be able to give him his NRL debut in 2016," he said.

"He thoroughly deserves his contract extension and shows our juniors what can be achieved through total commitment to the club and maintaining the highest standards on and off the field.

"Tom is just starting his first-grade career but he has the same traits."

After being side-lined for the entire 2020 season following knee surgery, Afoa appeared in 44 of a possible 48 games in 2021 and 2022.

Used almost exclusively in an interchange role, he averaged 81 metres and 23 tackles a game despite averaging just 36 minutes a

match; he produced career best numbers of 572 tackles and 2150 metres gained in 2022 while making just two errors (after only one in 2021).

Ale came through the club's pathways to earn his NRL debut against Canberra late in the 2020 season, his only appearance that season.

Two more games followed in 2021 but an ACL injury playing for feeder club Redcliffe in the Queensland Cup later that season delayed

his return for the Dolphins until mid-July last year.

He duly earned a recall to the NRL side and immediately impressed when he averaged 89 metres and 12 tackles a game despite averaging only 26 minutes a match.

source: https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/sport/483219/warriors-keep-hold-of-juniors-through-2025