18 May 2023

Manu Vatuvei to be released from prison, take up mentor role with Warriors

9:32 am on 18 May 2023
Manu Vatuvei pictured in March 2021.

Manu Vatuvei in March 2021 Photo: RNZ / Simon Rogers

Former Warriors rugby league star Manu Vatuvei is set to be released from prison later this month and will take up a role with the club as a mentor.

Vatuvei was sentenced to three years and seven months imprisonment last year for importing and supplying a class A drug.

He appeared before the Parole Board yesterday and will be released on 31 May.

Warriors chief executive Cameron George said they acknowledge the 37-year-old had made some bad decisions and they do not condone them, but his experiences could be learned from.

George said the position is a part-time voluntary role to help deliver programmes to young players around careers and best choices.

"It's part of his rehabilitation which Manu has to lead and we're just a part of many aspects as to how he can get back in and engage with the community."

George said Vatuvei will not be involved directly with the NRL club, but will help in their well-being programmes that they deliver around New Zealand in different communities.

"We will use Manu to tell his story to future athletes to make sure that they learn from his lessons, and Manu can tell his story that can hopefully steer those kids into bright futures.

"This is a time of need for Manu and if we can provide a little bit of assistance to get him back to where he needs to be, we'll do that."

George confirmed that the terms were a part of the parole process.

"We provided a letter (to the parole board) of how we could help, along with many other people and organisations, to help with his rehabilitation."

In February last year Vatuvei was sentenced to three years and seven months in prison for importing at least $200,000 of methamphetamine from India.

Read more: The Detail: Manu Vatuvei's fall from grace

Between 2004 and 2017, Vatuvei played 14 seasons for the Warriors and scored 152 tries over 226 games.

He was nicknamed "the Beast" and became the first player in NRL history to complete the feat of scoring 10 tries or more in 10 consecutive seasons in 2015.

In 2019 he had success in Dancing with the Stars, winning the series with dance partner Loryn Reynolds.

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