Only a year prior, Papali’i was running around the park with the Junior All Blacks, who went on to win the 2017 U-20 World Cup.
His elevation to the national side for the 2018 end of year tour came after a breakthrough season for the Blues, in which he managed to shake off early season injury to make a strong impact.
At 1.93m and 113kg, Papali’i boasts superb size and strength for a loose forward and is seen as a rare blindside/openside flanker option.
A product of St. Kentigern College in Auckland, Papali’i played rugby league as a youngster, before being enticed to play rugby.
A polite and confident young man, Papali’i makes a warm impression on everyone he meets.