EXCLUSIVE: Vodafone Warriors sign rookie star Hurrell until 2015
Saturday 14 July 2012 9:44 PM
The Vodafone Warriors have achieved a huge coup by securing centre Konrad Hurrell, one of the NRL’s hottest properties, until the end of the 2015 NRL season.
The 20-year-old Tongan, halfway through only his second season in rugby league, has been one of the NRL’s top rookies, his blitzing form netting 12 tries in just 12 appearances including 11 in his last seven games.
It follows a dazzling introduction to rugby league from schoolboy rugby union last season when he helped the Vodafone Junior Warriors to a second straight NYC premiership. Scoring two tries in the grand final, he had a total tally of 22 in 21 games.
While disappointed a foot injury kept him out of Friday night’s 19th-round battle with the Brisbane Broncos, the ex-Auckland Grammar School First XV star is ecstatic about his long-term future with the Vodafone Warriors and in rugby league generally.
“I’m really happy and stoked I’m going to be with the Vodafone Warriors and with the boys for so long,” said Hurrell.
“I love playing rugby league and now I just want to play the best footy I can and hopefully I’ll be able to stay here even longer.
“My good friend Omar (Slaimankhel) was the one who got me here. He told me he loved the environment, the players and the game and he said I would too. It was hard to make the decision at first but I’m glad I made the switch. I get the ball so much more than I did in union and the game is more physical and tougher I think.”
Vodafone Warriors recruitment manager Dean Bell said the success the club had witnessed with Hurrell and Slaimankhel was another signal to young rugby union players about the opportunities available in rugby league.
“As a club we’ve shown rugby union players that there’s so much they can achieve by coming to the Vodafone Warriors,” he said.
“We’ve had success in identifying Konrad and Omar at school level and have seen them take to rugby league so well. We’ve got others like them on our books who are developing well and we know there are more out there who could also make it.”
With Hurrell off contract at the end of next season, the Vodafone Warriors were keen to secure him on a long-term basis as soon as possible.
“He’s a good boy is Konnie. He’s been going really well for us from the start of the season and we all know there’s even better to come,” said Vodafone Warriors head coach Brian McClennan.
“We knew he had real talent but it was during the preseason that we really saw he was something extra special.
“The way these young players have come through our system here at the Vodafone Warriors is great and young Konnie has shown such a willingness to work on his game and do all he can to improve every week.”
With 12 tries, Hurrell is third on the NRL’s try-scoring chart after 18 rounds and he’s in the top 10 for most line breaks with 11 (along with team-mate Shaun Johnson) and also for most tackle breaks (62).
Among Vodafone Warriors players he ranks second for most average metres a game with 123, narrowly behind Ben Matulino (125) and ahead of third-placed Manu Vatuvei (111).
Hurrell said there were so many people he had to thank for helping him in his transition to rugby league.
“Ricky Henry (development coach) was great when I first came here and then Papa (John Ackland) in the juniors and now Bluey (McClennan) and Sponge (Tony Iro) in the NRL team,” he said.
“All the players have helped me, everyone, like Feleti Mateo, Jerome Ropati, James Maloney, Simon Mannering and most of all big Manu. I look up to him all the time. He’s a really big help for me.”
Hurrell also reiterated his desire to represent New Zealand.
“My dream used to be about trying to play for the All Blacks but not now. All I want to do is to play for the Kiwis if I get the opportunity,” he said.
Hurrell’s signing follows confirmation on Friday that prop Jacob Lillyman will be with the Vodafone Warriors until the end of the 2014 season and the announcement two weeks ago that front rower Ben Matulino and rookie centre Ben Henry had been secured until 2015.
Date of Birth: August 05, 1991
Birthplace: Tofoa, Tonga
Junior Club: Vodafone Junior Warriors (NYC)
Other Teams: Auckland Grammar School (rugby union)
Rep Honours: Nil
NRL Debut: Vodafone Warriors v Manly, Eden Park, March 04, 2012 (Round 1)
Club Number: 172
NRL Career: 12 appearances, 2012
NRL Points: 48 (12 tries)
NYC Debut: Vodafone Junior Warriors v Sydney Roosters, Mount Smart Stadium, April 09, 2011 (Round 5)
NYC Career: 21 appearances, 2011
NYC Points: 88 (22 tries)
Secondary School: Auckland Grammar School (Auckland)