Higgins and Lakai join Lions for 2022
Two more talented teens have joined the Wellington Lions ahead of the 2022 Bunnings Warehouse NPC competition.
Peter Lakai and Riley Higgins have signed their first professional contracts with Wellington and will look to make their mark on the provincial stage.
The pair are the latest Wellington Rugby Academy graduates to link up with the Lions – joining 21 of their current teammates having come through the Wellington system.
Whilst 19-year-old midfielder Higgins is yet to don the black and yellow jersey, 19-year-old loose forward Lakai joined the Lions squad in 2021 as injury cover, debuting against Southland.
Crowley said he was delighted to welcome Lakai and Higgins into the squad.
“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.”
The pair become the second and third players to graduate from the 2022 Wellington Academy class, joining Oriental-Rongotai’s, Sione Halalilo.
Wellington Rugby Academy Manager, Rick Whatarau said the new signings were coming from a particularly impressive group of Academy players.
“Having left high school in 2020, both boys had strong 2021 seasons, before linking up with the Hurricanes in 2022. 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,” said Whatarau.
A physically imposing and powerful loose forward, Lakai, born in 2003, has one more year of eligibility with the NZ U20s. He started his playing days at Avalon before joining Higgins at St Patrick's Silverstream. From there the pair progressed through the Wellington Academy.
Crowley is set to name his full squad for the upcoming 2022 Bunnings Warehouse NPC competition on Monday, 11 July.