Penrith back-rower joins the Northern Pride

Vaipuna Tia-Kilifi

He happened to play against the Northern Pride in the inaugural State Championship but now, Vaipuna Tia-Kilifi will be playing for them, with the back-rower signing a 1-year deal to head North.

At just 22, his profile has dropped somewhat, considering he was regarded as one of the most promising Penrith Panthers NYC youngsters in recent years.

With a new opportunity and chance to make a name for himself at the Northern Pride, his signing comes after the departure of Blake Leary from the club.

It was his soon-to-be team-mates that played a role in getting him to the club, highlighting just how much of an impact he had during the State Championship.

That was all the Northern Pride players were talking about and it was all the club needed to act and sign him, as club coach Joe O’Callaghan explained.

“All the guys said after that State Championship game how much he dented the line,” Pride coach Joe O’Callaghan said.

“It was actually after that when we started talking.

“He has aspirations to get (to the NRL) and thought this was his best opportunity.

“We all agreed that this is a good chance for him to reach his potential.

“I see him as someone who could play that role like Blake where he is a damaging ballrunner on the fringes.”

The club are expected to confirm more signings for the 2015 season in coming weeks.

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