Mafi extends Leicester stay
March 5, 2011
Steve Mafi scores against Wasps during the Premiership clash in February © Getty Images
Leicester have rewarded Steve Mafi with a new two-year contract after the Tongan impressed on a part-time deal with the Aviva Premiership champions.
The 21-year-old, who can play as a lock or flanker, will remain at Welford Road until at least 2013 while the Tigers have also been linked to second-row Graham Kitchener after Worcester confirmed he would be leaving the promotion-chasing Championship side at the end of the season.
Mafi was set to play in Italy at the beginning of the season but joined Leicester on a part-time deal after a series of injuries left the Tigers short in the second-row. And he has since established himself as an important member of the squad, making 18 appearances so far.
"I am here for another two years and I am really happy with that and the decision I made to come here," Mafi told the Leicester Mercury. "I wasn't expecting to play in as many games as I have but I am happy to have got that game time, and that has helped me a lot to settle into the team.
"All of the boys have helped me settle in off the pitch too. When I first arrived, I stayed with Craig Newby at his house and he was great and encouraged me a lot. It's great to have him captaining the side at the moment with a few of the boys away.
"Richard Blaze and Ben Herring [assistant coaches] have been helping me with core work and individual skills, and Geordan Murphy has been really good to me too. It was also nice to read in the paper last week that Richard Cockerill said I would be getting a lot more attention if I was English. I feel like I am a lot better player than when I came. I have put on weight and kept the same speed."
Meanwhile Worcester Warriors head coach Richard Hill confirmed the departure of Kitchener, who has impressed for England Saxons this season.
"We're obviously disappointed that Graham will leave at the end of the season," Hill told the Worcester News. "He has come through the Warriors academy and progressed to the England Saxons squad. He remains a key part of our squad and will continue to represent the Warriors throughout the remainder of the season in the Championship play-offs and British & Irish Cup.
"Graham is an outstanding professional and I have no doubt he will continue to conduct himself in the right manner and do everything he possibly can to help the club gain promotion."
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