The North Queensland Toyota Cowboys have agreed to a two-year contract with talented Tongan outside back Viliami Vailea.
The 20-year-old has appeared in 17 games for the Warriors over the course of three seasons following his debut as an 18-year-old in 2021.
Equally at home at centre or wing, Vailea was born in Vaini on Tonga’s main island Tongatapu before moving to New Zealand for high school.
Rated as one of the best schoolboy rugby union talents in New Zealand, Vailea switched to league to sign with the Warriors before graduating from Aorere College and would make his NRL debut in his first year out of high school.
Vailea has appeared in five games for the Warriors this season, all at centre.
“With Peta Hiku moving on in 2024, we have a position in the outside backs to fill. We are really happy with how our young outside backs in Rob Derby and Zac Laybutt are developing, but we thought we needed another player with first grade experience to come in to balance the squad,” Cowboys General Manager of Football Micheal Luck said.
“Viliami is parked behind some young guys at the Warriors who are playing really well and when the opportunity arose to sign him, we were immediately excited because we’ve been impressed with what he has produced in the opportunities he’s already had in first grade.
“We think Viliami will fit into our program well and look forward to seeing him in Cowboys colours in 2024 and beyond.”