The Vodafone Junior Warriors will make it three from three at Eden Park if they prevail against the Sydney Roosters in todays second-round NYC match (5.15pm kick-off).
While the NRL side was edged by Parramatta and Manly in its first two Eden Park experiences in 2011 and 2012, the Vodafone Junior Warriors came away with a 20-16 success against the Eels and a 30-16 victory against the Sea Eagles.
However, their line-up today is much changed from the one used 12 months ago against Manly.
Only Viliami Lolohea, Ngataua Hukatai, David Bhana and Eko Malu remain in the 20-man squad originally named for todays fixture.
Around them are five players who are in line to make their NYC debuts Lafu Feagaiga in the centres and Vince Afoa in the front row plus dynamic Massey High School rugby union star Abraham Papalii, back rower Stedman Lefau and winger Esera Esera on a six-man bench. Winger Tuimoala Lolohea, prop Sam Lisone, second rower Eric Newbigging and utility Viliami Kaveinga made their debuts just a week ago in the heavy 8-46 loss to Parramatta.
In the wake of that performance coupled with the need to give more players an early experience of playing in the NYC, Vodafone Junior Warriors head coach John Ackland has not only called in new faces but he has also made some positional changes against the side that ended his teams finals campaign last year.
Ngataua Hukatai, now one of the sides most experienced players, started in the centres last week but runs on at fullback today while last weeks starting fullback Tuimoala Lolohea goes to the wing and second-year Vodafone Junior Warrior David Fusitua switches from the wing to the centres.
One player well worth watching today when he has his chance will be Papalii who, on early sightings in the trials, looks to be a prospect with uncommon ability. The try he scored against Waicoa Bay in Hamilton on February 16 was something to behold. While he has been playing secondary schools rugby union, he clearly has the physical attributes and skill to succeed.
The four players who appeared last week but have not been named to take on the Roosters are Sione Feao, props James Taylor and Tama Koopu and second rower Kouma Samson.
We had a disappointing day against the Eels but at this stage of the season its also important to have a look at different players in the squad to ensure they have an early experience of the competition, said Vodafone Junior Warriors head coach John Ackland.
We also need to try some players in other roles so we have a sense of their ability to cover other positions.
VODAFONE JUNIOR WARRIORS v SYDNEY ROOSTERS
Eden Park, Auckland
5.15pm, Saturday, March 16
Referees: Matt Noyen & Chris Sutton
VODAFONE JUNIOR WARRIORS
1 NGATAUA HUKATAI
2 TUIMOALA LOLOHEA
3 LAFU FEAGAIGA
4 DAVID FUSITUA
5 VILIAMI LOLOHEA
6 EKO MALU
7 MASON LINO
8 VINCENT AFOA
9 MICHAEL SIO
10 SAM LISONE
11 RAYMOND FAITALA-MARINER
12 ERIC NEWBIGGING
13 DAVID BHANA (c)
14 VILIAMI KAVEINGA
15 ABRAHAM PAPALII
16 ALBERT VETE
17 STEDMAN LEFAU
18 ESERA ESERA
20 TRENT BISHOP
HEAD COACH: JOHN ACKLAND