The 17th season of New Zealand’s National Provincial Championship rugby union competition is about to begin in under a month.
As the season approaches the Wellington Lions have acquired two new young signings, Peter Lakai and Riley Higgins.
The two young guns, Peter Lakai and Riley Higins signed their first ever professional contract on Friday morning. Their inclusion into the squad will help bolster the Lions, who hope to make the finals this season.
Wellington was unfortunate not to make the finals last season, falling three points short of fourth position. The Lions were only able to win three matches but achieved multiple bonus points across the season.
The pair are the next big young players to come out of the renowned Wellington Rugby Academy. The academy has produced talent who have competed in the Super Rugby competition and at international level.
This includes former Wallaby prop Pekahou Cowan and All Blacks winger Julian Savea. Both players will be hoping they can follow in their footsteps as they have plenty of potential to live up to.
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“Peter and Riley are both talented young men. We are looking forward to their continued development, and I am sure they will hit the ground running and are excited to get out on the field in the Lions jersey,” coach Leo Crowley said.
Riley Higgins is a midfielder who can play in the inside and outside centre position. Unlike other signing Lakai, he has yet to debut for the Lions. He will be looking to impress in any opportunities that he receives from coach Crowley.
Born in 2003, Peter Lakai started his union career at Avalon followed by a move to St Patrick’s Silverstream. Lakai is known as physically aggressive and tenacious loose forward and will be one to look out for in the near future.
Lakai and Riley have been under the guidance of academy manager Rick Whatarau for the past few seasons. Whatarau has seen them develop into great young players.
“Having left high school in 2020, both boys had strong 2021 seasons, before linking up with the Hurricanes in 2022,” Whatarau said.
“They’ve progressed through the development pathway of Wellington U16 and U19, Hurricanes U18 and U20, and New Zealand U20s, to give them the tools to step into the full-time game.”
Coach Leo Crowley announced the rest of the Wellington Lions squad for the 2022 Bunnings NPC season on Monday, which you can read here.
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