Manly forward Ligi Sao is coming home to rejoin the Vodafone Warriors on a two-year contract for the 2016 and 2017 NRL seasons.

The Manurewa Marlins junior joined the Sea Eagles in 2013 after 36 NYC appearances for the Vodafone Junior Warriors including their 2011 grand final win.

Since his NRL debut in 2013 he has made 16 NRL appearances, 15 of them this season. While used mainly off the bench he has started at loose forward in Manly’s last two games.

“We’ve been watching Ligi and he has developed well at Manly, especially this year with a lot more exposure at NRL level,” said Vodafone Warriors head coach Andrew McFadden.

“He helps our depth with our middle players and increases competition for spots. It’s also great to be able to bring Ligi back home.”

The Stan Martin-managed Sao said returning home was a key factor in his decision.

“I’ve got the rest of this season ahead of me here at Manly but I’m excited the Warriors have given me the chance to come home,” he said.

“It’s a new challenge for me and one I’m looking forward to. I’ve really enjoyed my time with Manly and have been lucky to be around some great players but it’s going to good being back in Auckland for next season.”

Sao will find plenty of familiar faces from his NYC days at the club with former team-mates Konrad Hurrell, Raymond Faitala-Mariner, David Fusitu’a, Ngani Laumape, Albert Vete and Ben Henry among those if the NRL squad.

LIGI SAO

Date of Birth: October 11, 1992

Birthplace: Auckland, NZ

Junior Club: Manurewa Marlins

Position: Prop

Height: 187cm

Weight: 109kg

Rep Honours: Nil

NRL Debut: Manly v North Queensland, 1300SMILES Stadium, July 15, 2013 (Round 18)

NRL Career: 16 appearances for Manly, 2013-2015

NRL Points: 8 (2 tries)

NYC Games: 36 (2011-2013), 16 points (4 tries)

Secondary School: Manurewa High School