The New Zealand Warriors have announced the signing of two former junior players, with utility Peta Hiku and back-rower Matiu Love-Henry both returning to the Auckland for next season.
Hiku (24), named in the Kiwis’ Rugby League World Cup squad last week, has signed for three years after being granted an early release from his contract with the Warrington Wolves in the English Super League.
Taupo-raised Love-Henry, who played 32 NYC games for the Junior Warriors in 2014-2015, is coming home after two years with the Brisbane Broncos where he played for the Norths Devils in Queensland’s Intrust Super Cup. He has a one-year deal.
“We’re delighted to be able to secure Peta, a player who brings us not only international experience but also a background in both the NRL and the Super League,” said Warriors CEO Cameron George.
“Another benefit is the working relationship he has with Stephen (Kearney) through his time with the Kiwis.
“Matiu didn’t manage to break into the NRL with Brisbane but Stephen was impressed with his development and attitude when he was at the Broncos.”
Hiku is the fourth Kiwi international the Warriors have secured for 2018 and beyond, joining Kiwi captain Adam Blair, second rower Tohu Harris and backline utility Gerard Beale along with 2017 Mate Ma’a Tonga international Leivaha Pulu.
In his only NYC season in 2012, Hiku made 23 appearances for the Junior Warriors and was named the club’s NYC Player of the Year. He spent the next three seasons with Manly, quickly earning his NRL debut and going on to score 28 tries in 60 games while being used at fullback, wing and centre. He moved to Penrith in 2016 before joining Warrington where he scored 10 tries in just 11 appearances.
Making his Test debut in 2014, Hiku was a key contributor to the Kiwis’ Four Nations triumph covering the fullback position for the injured Roger Tuivasa-Sheck.
He joins fellow new signings Blair and Beale in the Kiwis at RLWC2017 along with Simon Mannering, Shaun Johnson and Roger Tuivasa-Sheck.