Bradford deal for former Bulldogs ace
Former Wetherby Bulldogs star Vila Halafihi has agreed a one-year deal at relegated Super League giants Bradford Bulls.
Halafihi has spent the past 12 months playing in Australia but he has joined the cash-strapped Bulls’ mission to return to the Super League next season.
The Boston Spa talent last year opted for a move to NRL giants Penrith Panthers, where he has been successfully plying his trade in the club’s under-20s side.
However, following an “incredible” stint overseas working under former Wigan Warriors player Trent Barrett, young Halafihi has opted for a move to the Provident Stadium.
“Coming home is a big step forward for my career, after a really exciting and challenging year with the Panthers,” said the son of former Hull KR, Sheffield and London forward Nick Halafihi.
“I am a massive Bradford Bulls fan, so feel absolutely privileged to have signed for such a great club.
“Bradford was the first team I ever supported and I want to play a part in helping return the club to its former glory.”
Halafihi is due to arrive back to the UK in October, prior to the start of pre-season training.
On his experience in Australia, the 20-year-old said he “enjoyed great apprenticeship” under retired Australian player Barrett, who played 15 times for his country between 1997 and 2005.
Halafihi, who played for Wetherby Bulldogs from the age of six, added: “I have learnt a huge amount from him. He has really added to my game.
“Joining Bradford Bulls is a huge opportunity for me – one which I was quick to grasp.
“From the minute the club approached me, I have been getting excited about the prospect of working with James Lowes again.
“He was with the Rhinos when I was there and to have someone who has won such a long list of trophies while playing my position will be fantastic for me going forward.
“The club is doing a great job on the recruitment front, I have certainly been keeping an eye on the way the squad is shaping up.
“There are some exciting names already on board and there is a pretty good mix of talent in place.”
Bradford boss Lowes, who worked with Halafihi during his time at Headingley, is expecting big things from the 14th addition to his 2015 roster.
He is hoping to see his latest recruit hit the ground running later this year, insisting he cannot wait to see the battle for the Bulls’ hooking role commence.
“We have some very talented hookers already on board and I expect Vila to only add to what they bring to the team,” explained Lowes.
“Vila has a great understanding of the game. He comes with an impressive pedigree for someone of his age and, I believe, has the ability to go far.
“I fully expect him to be pushing his peers all the way for a spot in the first 17 next season, while adding a level of depth.
“I know he has all of the right ingredients.”