Albert Vete cannot wait to get started in Super League after agreeing a two-year deal with Hull Kingston Rovers from the start of next season.
The prop joins from recently crowned NRL champions Melbourne Storm, having previously played for New Zealand Warriors from 2015 to 2018 and won two caps for Tonga.
But despite some initial concerns, Vete has now opted to switch to Super League and is looking forward to getting started with Rovers.
Love this club and everything they’re about. Going to miss the joint. Nothing but love fams 💜💜 https://t.co/Sl2qsgv5oi
“At first, I was a bit hesitant about moving all the way to England to play footy, but once I’d spoken to a few people they definitely convinced me it was the right move for me,” Vete said.
“At the age I’m at, wanting to keep playing footy and keep growing, I’m only 27 so I’ve still got a lot of footy in me and I’m very keen to get over to England to learn.
“I’ve got a lot of friends who play in Super League, spread across teams, and I’ve talked to them about their experiences and they love it. I’m really excited about this next journey in my career.”
Vete’s move to Hull College Craven Park came about thanks to his manager having a connection with Tony Smith, who he spoke to when the Storm were based in Queensland during the 2020 NRL season.
At the age I’m at, wanting to keep playing footy and keep growing, I’m only 27 so I’ve still got a lot of footy in me and I’m very keen to get over to England to learn.
Knowing Smith’s nephew Rohan from his time as assistant coach with the Warriors meant there was a family connection too and the Rovers head coach’s words were enough to convince him the club are heading in the right direction despite finishing bottom of Super League this year.
“With part of our season with the Storm we were stuck on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland and I had a few phone calls with Tony,” Vete said. “He just wanted to get to know me.
“I’d been coached by a family member of his, Rohan Smith, when he was at the Warriors. We were just talking footy and it got serious when the season finished.
“I caught up with Tony and he told me where the club was heading and he was pretty disappointed with the way the season went this year. He wants me to come and add value to the club and that’s what I’m hoping to do.”
Vete was not part of the Melbourne team which beat Penrith Panthers in this year’s Grand Final to claim their fourth NRL title, but still learnt plenty from his two seasons with the club.
Playing and training alongside the likes of Cameron Smith, Cameron Munster and Jesse Bromwich taught him some valuable traits he believes will stand him in good stead for his move to the UK.
“They are always looking for ways to improve how they are playing, and they taught me a lot about my game and not letting me get comfortable with where I am,” Vete said.
“A big reason with why Melbourne were so competitive this year was how intense training sessions were. That’s something I’ll be trying to bring along with me and try lift the intensity of training.”
Expert view – Terry O’Connor
“I think it’s a very promising signing for Hull KR and one that their supporters and fans of Super League will enjoy watching over the next couple of seasons.
“His size and blockbusting style will be a welcome addition to Rovers’ pack and give them some extra punch going forward – opposition goal-line defence will certainly have to be tight to prevent him from scoring from close range.
“At 27-years-old he’s just hitting the peak age for a front-row forward, so you’d expect his best years are yet to come up in East Yorkshire.
“He reminds me a bit of Willie Isa and Luke Yates when they came over to Super League – limited top flight experience Down Under, but in Super League really hit the ground running and made their mark on the competition.
“There’s not many sides who wouldn’t want to sign the likes of Isa and Yates now – Hopefully we’ll be saying the same about Albert Vete in years to come.”
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