Leeds new boy King Vuniyayawa reveals electrical past as he faced going part-time

KING Vuniyayawa hopes to spark on the field as much as he is a tongue twister now he has arrived at Leeds – as long as he is not on the wing.

For had the Rhinos not come calling, he may have been back working an electrical day job while playing part-time rugby league.

Fiji back-rower Vuniyayawa will go head-to-head with Hull’s Ligi Sao after growing up watching him in the Manurewa area of Auckland, New Zealand.

But the 25-year-old, who was released from NRL side New Zealand Warriors, revealed that had he not received an offer from across the world, he would have been facing very long days.

Vuniyayawa, who emigrated from Fiji to New Zealand as a nine-year-old, said: “I had offers from Queensland Cup teams where you work and play part-time.

“I did that before I went full-time, I helped build switchboards and things like that. It was hard at first going to work and then training, finishing about 9pm or 10pm then having to get up early to go to work.

“We were looking around but I’d have most likely been playing in the Queensland Cup or doing a pre-season trial.

“But Leeds reached out and my first choice was to come over here.”

Vuniyayawa is most definitely a forward – but he could not escape Fiji’s reputation for producing wingers like Semi Radradra, Suliasi Vunivalu, Lote Tuqiri and Marika Koroibete.

And if he gives into temptation in the stocked fridge at Leeds’ Headingley Lodge, where he is completing his quarantine, he would definitely be bigger than many thought.

He added: “I tried out for the Warriors’ Under-20s as a loose forward and the coach saw me and was like, ‘You’re training for the whole of pre-season in the wing.’

“I was like, ‘Oh my gosh.’ I’ve now got a fair idea but I’m still not a winger!

“Now the set up here has been amazing, Leeds have made it easy for me. My family and mates are asking if I’m homesick but no.

“There’s too much food in the fridge, though. I looked at it thinking, ‘How am I going to finish all this?’”

Vuniyayawa will line up alongside Liam Sutcliffe after he signed a new deal until 2024, after handing in a transfer request last season.

But coach Richard Agar insists there was no arm twisting done to keep him, saying: “When a player hands a transfer request in it gives an image of, ‘There’s something not right.’

“We let Liam find his own way. We didn’t pressure him. We wanted him to work it out for himself. It’s not been a difficult one for either party.”

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