Warriors stalwart Manu Vatuvei has revealed how he has rediscovered his joy for life - after his rugby league career was forced to a halt due to a serious injury.

The 33-year-old league veteran, with his partner Loryn Reynolds, won the 12-week-long Dancing With the Stars in the grand final on Sunday night.

In an interview with Stuff, Vatuvei revealed how dancing on the show had helped heal him both physically and mentally following a devastating Achilles heel injury which had derailed his career last year.

"It's been real tough", the Kiwis and Warriors legend told the website.

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"Not ending on my own terms, that was really hard.

"I sometimes get a bit lazy doing my training and my rehab but dancing's helped me out with my calves and getting my strength back. I've never been flexible before and now I'm pretty flexible.

"[It] put that joy back into my life."

Vatuvei's love for dancing isn't entirely newfound as the former wing says he's always enjoyed hip-hop and Pacific Island dancing.

The moment Manu Vatuvei won Dancing With the Stars. Photo / Supplied
The moment Manu Vatuvei won Dancing With the Stars. Photo / Supplied

However, the Warriors top try scorer admitted he didn't expect to fall in love with ballroom.

"I love ballroom now," he said.

"Loryn has always had that belief in me. She showed me what dancing can do."

It wasn't an easy road to the grand final for Vatuvei after dropping Reynolds during a rehearsal earlier in the season.

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Reynolds even fell during their live-broadcasted semi-final routine. However, looking back on the journey, the pair said they still enjoyed every moment and couldn't pick out a low point if they tried.

"I've loved it," said Vatuvei.

"Manu's journey for me and seeing what he produced last night in that final show - that was a proud moment for me," said Reynolds.

"Seeing how far (you've) come and how much more confident you are - that's why I do this, to help people in their lives.

"It's helped heal you, which is incredible."

Manu Vatuvei in action for the Warriors. Photo / Photosport
Manu Vatuvei in action for the Warriors. Photo / Photosport

Vatuvei, who was raising money for KidsCan, said he planned to continue dancing but was a little less certain about what the future held for his sporting career.

"At the moment I'm just trying to figure it out," he said. "My body's saying no and my mind's saying yes."

In December, Vatuvei told the Herald how he had struggled to get used to life after professional sport, following his return to Auckland from his stint with English club Salford.

His Achilles problem, which cut short his time in the north of England, prevented him from training and provided a good excuse to sit on the couch where his weight ballooned to nearly 130kg.

In order to find something to do he took up a construction job, before being invited to make his professional boxing debut - against Dave "The Brown Buttabean" Letele on the undercard of Joseph Parker's bout against Alexander Flores in Christchurch.

"I got to my heaviest when I stopped playing footy," Vatuvei told the Herald.

Manu Vatuvei made his professional boxing debut against David Letele in December last year. Photo / Photosport
Manu Vatuvei made his professional boxing debut against David Letele in December last year. Photo / Photosport

"Getting to that weight was hard. I felt sluggish and heavy and tired the whole time. I wasn't used to that. I had to do something so I started working in construction.

"I started getting active and luckily enough I got a phone call from Duco and I was asked if I wanted to jump on this card.

"I wanted to get back into shape. I was 129kg. I've never been that heavy before – my previous heaviest when I've been injured was 120kg."