Parramatta back rower Marata Niukore is heading back to the New Zealand Warriors on a four-year contract but he won't be joining the club until 2023.
The deal is worth a reported $625,000 a season, according to News Corp.
The 25-year-old Mangere East Hawks junior has amassed 77 NRL appearances since joining Parramatta in 2017 before making his debut in 2018. He has one more season with the Eels before he'll head to Mt Smart in 2023.
The 188cm, 106kg Mangere East Hawks junior came through the Warriors' system playing for the club's under-20 and New South Wales Cup sides before moving to Australia.
"We're absolutely thrilled to sign Marata on a long-term deal," said Warriors CEO Cameron George.
"We had him marked down as one of our key recruitment targets once we were able to go
to the market for players off contract after the 2022 season.
"His home is Auckland, he knows our club really well and he's now a well-established first grader who's going to be a key player for us. He's a really big part of our long-term future through to 2026."
Niukore made 21 appearances for the sixth-placed Eels in 2021 with game averages of more than 60 minutes, 100 metres, 41 post contact metres and 22 tackles.
"Marata has developed into a high quality second rower who'll bring so much to our squad," said Warriors head coach Nathan Brown.
"We've been keeping a close eye on him and have been really impressed with the way he
has developed his all-round game. It'll be great to have him on our roster from 2023."
A Junior Kiwi in 2015 and 2016, Niukore made 42 NYC appearances for the Junior Warriors in 2014, 2015 and 2016. While still NYC-eligible, he played 15 games for the club's New South Wales Cup side in 2015 and 2016. He played in three NRL trials for the Warriors in 2015 and 2016.
Niukore was initially limited to New South Wales Cup football for feeder club Wentworthville when he linked up with the Eels in 2017, his NRL debut coming the following year when he was used off the bench against his former club, a match the Warriors won 24-14.
Primarily used in the second row, Niukore started in the centres eight times for Parramatta this year when he covered for injuries.