24 year old Api Pewhairangi has only been with the London Broncos since the middle of May, but with seven appearances, seven tries, 19 goals and two man of the match performances under his belt, you really wouldn’t know it.
Api was originally signed on a four week trial, but impressed so much in his debut game that he was rewarded with a permanent contract just two weeks in. The New Zealand native slotted into both the team and his switch back to rugby league with total ease, and says he hasn’t looked back since.
“My time here has been surreal. I’m really enjoying life in London and I feel as though I have found a new home here with a great club and a good bunch of lads and staff.
“It’s been an easy transition – the lads have welcomed me in and I haven’t had any problems. I feel very blessed to be a part of a good group of men.
“Personally I think the team has been performing well every week which has made my job a lot easier. As I’ve said, I’m just really enjoying being back in rugby league and actually enjoying my footy, which I’ve struggled with in the past few seasons.”
Pewhairangi has achieved an impressive amount at such a young age – originally from Palmerston North, he was signed by the Newcastle Knights at only 16, when he re-located to Australia. He stayed with the Knights, playing in the National Youth Competition, until 2012, when he was selected as a member of the Junior Kiwis squad to play the Junior Kangaroos.
Later signed by Parramatta Eels in 2013, Pewhairangi captained the side in the NSW Cup, and played a total of four games before being side lined with a hand fracture. He was also a member of the NZ Maori team from 2012-2014, and pulled on the Warriors jersey in 2015, again in the NSW Cup.
With an Irish grandmother, Pewhairangi also holds an Irish passport, and represented Ireland in the 2013 Rugby League World Cup.
In July 2015, Pewhairangi code swapped to rugby union, signing with Connacht Rugby in the Pro 12 competition. Though his time with the Galway based club wasn’t as seamless as hoped, Pewhairangi still says there were many positives during his time there.
“Experience-wise it was awesome to be able to explore the land of my grandmother, and also to experience the lifestyle and way of life in Ireland. Can’t forget the beautiful weather!
“I didn’t have much joy on the union pitch which was a bummer, but it was great to be a part of a Pro 12 winning team and to learn and gain friendships with quality men.”
When asked if he’s enjoying the switch back to league, his response is instant: “there’s nothing better to be honest. I’m loving playing league again, and also enjoying my footy which is a bonus.
“I feel as though I am learning and improving as a player every day which is credit to our coaching staff, so I am very pleased.
“I like the styles of coaching and playing that Hendo is employing with this team. Wardy and Langers have also added a lot of experience and tips, which is a major bonus.
“I’ve also been very impressed with the strength and fitness team under Eccles, which is helping our on field performances.”
Pewhairangi shares a house in Ealing with Iliess Macani, Jon Magrin and Alex Walker, and says it’s a great spot in London.
“We have all we need in Ealing: a coffee shop, Chooks, and a quality wine bar – what more can you ask for?!”
On his housemates, he says, “Illy is the most annoying when he’s in his monthly moods, but he’s also the cleanest – he hand washes his undies every day because our wash machine is broken at the moment. Gump snores the house down and makes weird noises in his sleep, and the dirtiest would be Jonny – he leaves his chocolate wrappers around the house.”
Finally, when asked what he thinks is a realistic goal for the London Broncos this season, “Top two finish without a doubt. I have full confidence in the group that we can achieve that goal.”