Big guns named for Hamilton trial

Manu Vatuvei (left) and Thomas Leuluai have both been named in the Vodafone Warriors' line-up for Saturday's trial against Penrith at Waikato Stadium. Photo: Photosport.


The Vodafone Warriors will be fielding most of their experienced players in the clubs second 2013 NRL trial against Penrith at Waikato Stadium in Hamilton on Saturday (4.00pm kick-off).


New signings Thomas Leuluai and Dane Nielsen both feature, Leuluai named in the halves after last playing for the club in 2004 and Queensland Origin representative Nielsen making his first appearance for the Vodafone Warriors.


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NRL premiership winner Nielsen, who turned out for the Indigenous All Stars last Saturday night, teams up in the centres with Konrad Hurrell.


Head coach Matthew Elliott has given Elijah Taylor the chance to claim the starting hookers job in the absence of regular No 9 Nathan Friend, who will miss the start of the season after having further shoulder surgery this Thursday.


Also lining up will be 2013 NRL All Stars Shaun Johnson at halfback and Feleti Mateo at loose forward. Elliott has selected Hamilton-raised Sam Rapira and 2012 Lion Red Player of the Year Ben Matulino as his starting props. With Steve Rapira named on the bench, the Rapira brothers are set to team up for the Vodafone Warriors in their hometown for the first time.



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We always planned to run with our younger players against the Titans, said Elliott.


It was a really productive trial for us, giving us a good chance to have a look at our depth.


As our only trial close to home, this match in Hamilton is a step up. Were able to call on most of our senior players and were all looking forward to playing at Waikato Stadium in front of our members and fans. Its great taking games to places around the country like Hamilton and we hope a huge crowd turns out for it.


Apart from Friend, other seasoned players not considered were Jerome Ropati, whos working his way back from knee surgery, Russell Packer (bicep) and the clubs other 2012 NRL grand final winner Todd Lowrie, who has returned home following the death of his grandfather.


Some of the Vodafone Warriors wider NRL squad will be playing for the Auckland Vulcans in a trial against a Pacific Island Selection at Cornwall Park on Saturday (11.00am kick-off).


The Vodafone Junior Warriors face a Waicoa Bay Selection in Saturdays early game at Waikato Stadium (1.45pm kick-off).


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VODAFONE WARRIORS v PENRITH PANTHERS


Waikato Stadium, Hamilton

4.00pm, Saturday, February 16

Referees: Henry Perenara and Chris James


VODAFONE WARRIORS


22 KEVIN LOCKE

2 BILL TUPOU

3 DANE NIELSEN

4 KONRAD HURRELL

25 MANU VATUVEI

6 THOMAS LEULUAI

7 SHAUN JOHNSON

8 SAM RAPIRA

14 ELIJAH TAYLOR

10 BEN MATULINO

16 BEN HENRY

12 SIMON MANNERING (c)

13 FELETI MATEO

Interchange:

1 DOMINIQUE PEYROUX

15 JACOB LILLYMAN

17 PITA GODINET

18 ALEHANA MARA

21 NGANI LAUMAPE

9 CARLOS TUIMAVAVE

20 SAM LOUSI

23 SEBASTINE IKAHIHIFO

26 JOHN PALAVI

27 GLEN FISIIAHI

11 SIO SIUA TAUKEIAHO

24 STEVE RAPIRA

5 CHARLIE GUBB


HEAD COACH: MATTHEW ELLIOTT