The Bay of Plenty Steamers have added some size and power to their squad with the signing of former Sydney Roosters NRL player Abraham Papali'i.
Papali'i played junior league for the Glenora Bears and Pt Chevalier Pirates as well as rugby for Massey and North Harbour before being signed by the New Zealand Warriors in 2013.
In 2014, he signed a two-year contract with Sydney Roosters. He made his NRL debut for the Roosters against South Sydney Rabbitohs in Round 6 of the 2016 NRL season. He has played second-row, lock and centre.
In November 2016, he joined French league club FC Lezignan in the Elite One Competition and this is his first year back playing rugby.
"I had a bit of a run of injuries at the back-end of my league career and I thought I would try something different. I wasn't enjoying [league] when you have injuries. So, I needed a change and to have some fun again," Papali'i said.
The New Zealand-born, Western Samoan descendant started playing club rugby this year, for Waitakere in Auckland.
"I went back to a local club and just started playing there and all of a sudden I got picked up by the Bay."
He struggled at first with the transition to rugby, but it wasn't because of the differences between the two codes.
"Waitakere weren't doing too well, they were getting beaten by 50 points every game which isn't too much fun."
The 26-year-old said he was happy to play the entire second round of the Farmlands Co-operative Baywide Championship for Greerton Marist who made it all the way to the semifinals this year.
Papali'i, who played No 8 for Greerton, said he was enjoying the Bay of Plenty lifestyle and being a part of the Steamers' set-up.
"I'm really enjoying it, especially being with a good bunch of boys and all the staff at Bay rugby. They have been really welcoming and made the transition easy. Especially coming from Auckland and being new here."
The 1.94m, 115kg Papali'i said he was looking forward to playing for the Steamers in this year's Mitre 10 Cup.
"I'm really happy Clayton [McMillan] has taken a chance with me and I guess what I'm trying to do is pay him back by getting into the best shape I can and hoping to add some value to the team. If he names me in the team for game day, then I'll be grateful and I'll try my best."
The Steamers get their season under way with a home game against Otago on August 11, at Tauranga Domain, kick-off at 2.05pm.
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Bay of Plenty Steamers 2019 Mitre 10 Cup Draw
v Otago, Tauranga Domain, 2.05pm.
v Waikato, Rotorua International Stadium, 4.35pm.
v Auckland, Eden Park, Auckland, 5.05pm.
v North Harbour, QBE Stadium, Albany, 2.05pm.
v Wellington, Rotorua International Stadium, 7.35pm.
v Taranaki, Yarrow Stadium, New Plymouth, 2.35pm.
v Northland, Northland Events Centre, Whangarei, 4.35pm.
v Hawke's Bay, Tauranga Domain, 2.35pm.
v Manawatu, Tauranga Domain, 2.35pm.
v Southland, Rugby Park Stadium, Invercargill, 7.35pm.