Up and Comer Sione Halalilo signs with the Lions until 2023

Another Wellington Rugby Academy graduate has given his immediate future to the Wellington Lions – 20-year-old Oriental-Rongotai loose striker Sione Halalilo, who has signed up for two seasons.

Halalilo, moved to Wellington in 2016 on a scholarship to Scots College and has represented Wellington at U16 and U19 levels as well as with the Hurricanes at U18 and U20.

Born and raised in Fu’amotu, Tongatapu, he was selected in the first XV of Tonga College in year nine, before switching to Scottish in year 10. Leaving school at the end of 2020, he linked up with Oriental-Rongotai and immediately made an impact as a tough ball carrier at both six and eight.

Wellington Lions head coach Leo Crowley was delighted to give Halalilo the opportunity to join the 2022 Lions squad.

“Sione is a player we have been watching for some time. He is a tough and abrasive player who has worked very hard through the academy, so it is a great pleasure to be able to offer him a 2 year contract. He is a fantastic addition to our group.

“He’s a quality guy – humble, with a great work ethic. I think we’ll see great things from him as the season progresses,” Crowley said.

Wellington Rugby Academy principal Rick Whatarau said he was happy to see Halalilo’s hard work paying off.

“We are really happy with his progress. Thanks to Sione as he was away from his family in Tonga for a few years due to the pandemic, but he leaned down to focus on what he can control. He had wonderful support from the Solo family and the Ories [Oriental Rongotai club] also during this period.

For Halalilo, getting the call up for the Wellington Lions was a welcome opportunity.

“I feel very lucky to have this opportunity and I appreciate the support I have received on and off the pitch. I hope I can make my family and those who have supported me proud when I have opportunity to play,” said Halalilo.

Charles P. Patton