Flashback: April 16, 2004 ... Thomas Leuluai lined up for the Vodafone Warriors against Bulldogs at Westpac Stadium, the last time an NRL match was played in Wellington. Nine years on, Leuluai is the sole survivor. Photo: Photosport.


The Vodafone Warriors hit the Capital for the first time in more than nine years and the first time ever as the home team when they land at Wellington Airport at 10.00am today (Friday) on Air New Zealand flight NZ423.


Fans are welcome to greet the players as they set foot in Wellington for The Capital Clash against the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs on Saturday night (7.35 kick-off; match day sponsor: Vodafone).


Head coach Matthew Elliott and his staff arrived on Thursday and ran a clinic for more almost 50 local coaches at the Wellington Rugby Leagues headquarters last night, one of 25 community events the Vodafone Warriors have been involved in around the Wellington region this week.


This morning captain Simon Mannering previously a Wellington resident and the playing squad make their entrance ahead of their final pre-game field session at Westpac Stadium, due to start at 11.00am. The session is open to all Vodafone Warriors members (full members and away members) while a group of specially-invited fans will also be in attendance along with representatives from many media outlets.


The Bulldogs and the Vodafone Warriors have previously met four times in Wellington but, on each of those occasions, Canterbury-Bankstown was the home side.


The last of those matches was played on April 16, 2004, when the Bulldogs prevailed 24-18. The only survivor from that night is Vodafone Warriors standoff Thomas Leuluai.


The 2004 contest followed matches in 2001, 2002 and 2003, the first attracting the biggest crowd of 27,724. Canberra also met the Vodafone Warriors at Westpac Stadium in 2003, winning 18-10.