Vodafone Warriors ambassador Sir Peter Leitch had outstanding Wellington born and bred prop Ben Matulino with him for a special audience he had initiated with Prime Minister John Key in his Beehive office this morning.
They were scheduled to have a 10-minute meeting and photo opportunity but it stretched to an hour as Sir Peter and Matulino had a money-cant-buy experience, not simply seeing the Prime Ministers office but also being given a personal tour of the Beehive by the nations leader.
They presented Mr Key with a personally-named Vodafone Warriors Wellington jersey a retro design produced especially for the match against the Bulldogs and also signed him up as an official 2013 Vodafone Warriors member. As well as showing the pair around the Beehive, the Prime Minister presented Matulino with one of his signed bottles of wine to be auctioned for charity.
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The 24-year-old Matulino was left buzzing afterwards having arrived in Wellington on Tuesday night with team-mates Simon Mannering and fellow Wellingtonian Mara for an event-packed day promoting The Capital Clash, the first home match the Vodafone Warriors have ever scheduled outside Auckland since the club came into existence in 1995. It also comes fresh on the heels of the Wellington Rugby Leagues 100th anniversary celebrations last year.
While BM met the PM with Sir Peter at the Beehive, Mannering and Mara started the day with a series of radio interviews in central Wellington before adjourning to Westpac Stadium for a media conference to officially launch the May 11 match to the Wellington community. Vodafone Warriors chief executive Wayne Scurrah and head coach Matthew Elliott had also travelled to the Capital for the occasion.
Among the media and special guests were Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown, Wellington Regional Stadium Trust chairman John Shewan, Wellington city councillor John Morrison (also on the WRST board), Westpac Stadium CEO David Gray, Wellington Rugby League chairman Tim Gibson and general manager Jason Hemson plus ex-Kiwis Warren Collicoat, Peter Mellars and David Lomax.
Wade-Brown and Shewan spoke of the impact the Vodafone Warriors match would have on Wellingtons economy while Scurrah welcomed the opportunity to play a home game at one of the countrys best stadiums.
As well as presenting jerseys to the mayor and other guests, Scurrah also handed over a cheque of $10,000 from the Vodafone Warriors to the Wellington Rugby League for its junior coaching programmes.
Before flying back to Auckland, Elliott, Mannering, Matulino and Mara had a signing session for staff at principal sponsor Vodafones Wellington office.
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