Warriors snare Ikahihifo for 2015
The Warriors have secured talented young back-rower Sebastine Ikahihifo until the end of the 2015 season.
Having exercised a one-year option on Ikahihifo’s contract, the Warriors have ensured the 23-year-old’s immediate future is in Auckland.
“They have taken the option on me, which means I have one more year here,” Ikahihifo confirmed mid-week.
“I am pretty settled here, all my family is here, so I preferred to stay.
“I am performing really well under Cappy [coach Andrew McFadden], so my preference is to stay here [long term], under him being coach.”
In early June Ikahihifo told NRL.com that he was unsure of his immediate future with the club, after the re-signing of fellow youngsters John Palavi, Tuimoala Lolohea and David Fusitu’a earlier in the year.
Ikahihifo, who came through the club’s NYC system and is close friends with several of the current NRL squad, managed only 12 games in his opening two seasons in the NRL but will make his eleventh appearance of the season this Sunday against the Panthers.
Averaging 41 minutes, 20 tackles and 65 metres per match, according to McFadden he is among the first players picked in his side every week.
Since losing Elijah Taylor to the Panthers at the end of last year the Warriors have looked to Ikahihifo to assume the role in the middle of the park, which centres around clean-up defence.
“He is massive – to have him here with us is really big,” said veteran prop Sam Rapira.
“Everybody sees how he plays and people just want to follow him.
“He doesn’t say much, he didn’t really say anything [about contract negotiations], but I am stoked for him.”
Warriors general manager of football Dean Bell said it was pleasing to retain a player of Ikahihifo’s ability and character.
“Seb has been one of our most improved players this season and he’s clearly relishing the chance to play at NRL level consistently,” Bell said.
“He has improved immensely under Andrew McFadden as well, and we are looking forward to him staying for much longer than one year.
“We had a Round 13 option date on him, so we just waited until then to confirm it.”