Ryan Smith, Connor Vest and Lopeti Faifua re-sign with Queensland Rugby

Ryan Smith, Connor Vest and Lopeti Faifua re-sign with Queensland Rugby

The Queensland Reds have reinforced their secondrow stocks with pathway products Ryan Smith, Connor Vest and Lopeti Faifua recommitting to Queensland Rugby.
Smith’s re-signing through 2024 comes fresh from his inclusion in the Australia A squad for the Pacific Nations Cup which kicks off in Fjii this weekend, while Vest and Faifua both impressed in their debut Super Rugby seasons this year and will remain at Ballymore through 2023.
Reds General Manager – Professional Rugby Sam Cordingley said: “It’s great to have another three Queensland pathway products re-sign. 

“Queensland have always had a strong group of locks. They’ll continue to improve within our program and will benefit from Brad Thorn's experience.

“Ryan and Connor are great for our group. Both are qualified tradesmen and offer great perspective. 

“It’s a good reward for Ryan to be selected for Australia A. He was our Rookie of the Year last year and received our Spirit of the Reds award this season. He’ll grow from the experience.

“Connor’s a great story of perseverance. He has worked incredibly hard to get to the position he’s in today. 

“Lopeti got the chance to debut this season and is a promising player. We’re looking forward to seeing more of him next season.”
Smith said: “For me, re-signing means I have the opportunity to stay in Queensland with my family and friends.
“Coming into the squad was a difficult time having to juggle work and training commitments. Since then I have relished the opportunity to be training and playing full-time. I love living in and playing for Queensland.
“We have achieved a lot as a squad but there remains a lot for us as a team, and me personally, to strive for over the next two years.”

Vest said: “I am extremely grateful for this opportunity and very proud to be wearing the Reds jersey.
“I feel like Brisbane is home for me and my family now, and I’m looking forward to adding as much value as I can both on and off the field. 
“This club is building something special and it feels amazing to be a part of the journey.”
Faifua said: “Re-signing gives me another chance to prove myself and it gives me confidence knowing I’ll have my family by my side with me.
“I believe Queensland is the home of Rugby in Australia, so I’m excited to challenge myself here and keep progressing.
“There’s a lot of talent here at Ballymore, I’m grateful for the opportunity and excited for the future.”
Smith, formerly a refrigerator mechanic, joined the Reds squad in 2020 following standout performances for Brothers in Queensland Premier Rugby and Brisbane City in the National Rugby Championship (NRC).
The 25-year-old journeyman debuted for Queensland in the opening round of the 2021 season and has since accumulated 28 caps for his state, with his selection in the Australia A squad continuing a promising start to his career.
After winning Rookie of the Year honours last season, Smith’s contribution on-and-off the field was recognised with the Spirt of the Reds award in 2022, the lock featuring in every game of Queensland’s Super Rugby Pacific campaign.
Like Smith, Vest is also a qualified tradesman who has used the StoreLocal Hospital Cup competition as a springboard to a professional career.
The 27-year-old has won competitions in both the Hospital Cup (University of Queensland) and Shute Shield (Northern Suburbs), while he also featured in the NRC with the NSW Country Eagles.
After spending the first part of the 2022 pre-season with the Waratahs, the abrasive lock joined the Reds wider squad over the summer before making his debut in Round 4 against the Fijian Drua.
Vest went on to play 10 games in Queensland’s campaign, showing his versatility after making his starting debut at blindside flanker against the Hurricanes.
Faifua became Queensland player #1370 in 2022, making his debut against the Melbourne Rebels at AAMI Park in Round 9.
The Wests lock was educated at renowned Rugby nursery Saint Kentigern College Auckland and played for the Blues U18s side, before moving across the ditch to Queensland.
The 20-year-old was recently named in the Junior Wallabies squad for the upcoming Oceania Rugby U20s Championship on the Sunshine Coast.
Ryan Smith
Position: Lock
Height: 199cm
Weight: 117kg
Born: 30/09/1996
Place of birth: Toowoomba, Queensland
Senior Club: Brothers
School: St Patrick’s, Shorncliffe
Super Rugby debut: 19/02/2021 v Waratahs, Suncorp Stadium.
Super Rugby caps: 28
Connor Vest
Position: Lock/backrow
Height: 195cm
Weight: 115kg
Born: 26/04/1994
Place of birth: Queanbeyan, New South Wales
Senior Club: University of Queensland
School: Grafton High School
Super Rugby debut: 12/04/2022, v Fijian Drua, Suncorp Staidum
Super Rugby caps: 10
Lopeti Faifua
Position: Lock
Height: 198cm
Weight: 115kg
Born: 22/01/2002
Place of birth: Myrtleford, Victoria
Senior Club: Wests
School: Saint Kentigern College, Auckland
Super Rugby debut: 15/03/2022 v Melbourne Rebels, AAMI Park
Super Rugby caps: 1

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