tmedia
Skip to main content
Main content
Homepage

Bull and Charlie on the farm

Richard Becht

Vodafone Warriors forwards Jacob Lillyman and Charlie Gubb had a taste of heartland Waikato when they visited the Hohaia farm in the countdown to the club's historic first-ever home game in Hamilton.

They travelled to the outskirts of Huntly to catch up with Rex Hohaia, father of one of the greatest Vodafone Warriors of all, Lance Hohaia.

Regularly referred to by his father as 'Koro' (Lance's second given name), the legendary Vodafone Warriors fan favourite was variously dubbed the 'Huntly Hurricane', 'Hobbit' and 'Frodo' during his playing days.

With rugby league history beckoning this week, it was timely to visit Hohaia Place to get a taste of what the Waikato region stands for above all - the national heartbeat of the dairying industry.

The region accounts for almost 25 per cent or about 1.2 million of the country's five million dairy cows, far outstripping any other area.

For Lillyman, being down on the farm was nothing new.

The man known as 'Bull' was right at home with his gumboots on getting up close with the cows, heifers and yearlings. After all, he's from farming stock in Richmond, North Queensland.

For Wellington city slicker Gubb the experience was a little different, though.

Hohaia senior had a couple of surprises in store for his guests when he took them outside but he also spent some time around the Hohaia home showing them the sporting memorabilia he has marking Lance's career.

Hohaia, Vodafone Warrior #99, is the leader of a notable trio of Waikato products who had big careers with the club.

They claim three spots among just 11 players who have appeared in 150 or more NRL games for the Vodafone Warriors, Hohaia sixth on the all-time list with 185 from 2022-2011, Hamilton's Sam Rapira with 173  from 2006-2015 and East Coast-born Wairangi Koopu (who did his schooling in Huntly) with 159 games in 1999 and from 2001-2008.

The Vodafone Warriors have previously played three 'away' games in Hamilton against Parramatta (2005 and 2006) and Canterbury-Bankstown (2014). Hohaia and Koopu both played against the Eels there in 2005 and 2006 while injury denied Rapira his only opportunity to play an NRL match in his hometown in 2014.

BUY TICKETS NOW | VODAFONE WARRIORS v ST GEORGE ILLAWARRA, FMG STADIUM WAIKATO, FRIDAY, MAY 19 (8.00PM)