Vodafone Warriors back into it

NRL offseason training will take on a new twist for Vodafone Warriors players those who arent involved in the Rugby League World Cup that is when they wind up their first week back at work tomorrow.


A group of just 14 players was on hand when the 2013-2014 NRL training programme began on Tuesday with the first of a series of team challenges.

Split into two teams of seven, the players were tasked with rowing, cycling and running 210km from Auckland to Mount Maunganui without leaving the clubs gym.


Sweating it out on rowing machines, spin bikes and treadmills, there was no more than a minute separating the teams as they each covered the equivalent distance between the two points.


They were at work with more challenges again yesterday and today but will round off week one with something a little different.


In the past the Vodafone Warriors have tried various alternative training methods including the infamous sand hills at Bethells Beach, surf boats and gruelling Devils Elbow run in the Waitakere Ranges.


Early tomorrow morning while some of their team-mates are lining up for the Kiwis against France at the World Cup theyll be trying their hand at dragon boat racing at Westhaven Marina.


Of the clubs confirmed 2014 NRL squad, 14 are involved in the World Cup:


Kiwis: Simon Mannering, Kevin Locke, Manu Vatuvei, Thomas Leuluai, Shaun Johnson and Ben Matulino

Mate Maa Tonga: Glen Fisiiahi, Konrad Hurrell and Siliva Havili

Toa Samoa: Pita Godinet and Suaia Matagi

Cook Islands: Dominique Peyroux

Fiji: Jayson Bukuya

England: Sam Tomkins


The World Cup players wont be back training until mid-January ahead of the February trials and the inaugural Dick Smith NRL Auckland Nines at Eden Park on February 15 and 16.


New signing Chad Townsend is still on his break after playing for the Cronulla Sharks in their New South Wales Cup grand final victory and Sam Rapira, Charlie Gubb and Ngani Laumape are off after Maori representative commitments. Also having their break are Vodafone Junior Warriors David Bhana, Raymond Faitala-Mariner and Albert Vete after playing in the NYC grand final; theyre all on NRL contracts for next season.


Among those training this week has been veteran 142-game centre Jerome Ropati, re-signed on a one-year contract for what will be his 12th NRL season.


Also in the initial training group is former Vodafone Junior Warriors prop Nathaniel Peteru, who was an Auckland Vulcans regular this year but has now been signed on a one-year NRL deal for 2014.


Others back at work have included Jacob Lillyman, Feleti Mateo, Nathan Friend and Dane Nielsen along with Sione and Sam Lousi plus Ben Henry; the Lousi brothers and Henry are making their returns from knee surgery. Brought into the squad for an offseason trial is giant forward Abraham Papalii, the former Massey High School First XV rugby union star, who played 15 NYC games this year.


Another ex-Vodafone Junior Warrior and Vulcans regular Agnatius Paasi has been signed on a contract with the Vodafone Warriors New South Wales Cup squad and will start training with the NRL group next week.


Vodafone Warriors general manager football operations Dean Bell said more NSW Cup signings would follow.