None of the Vodafone Warriors’ three teams will welcome being back at home this weekend more than the club’s New South Wales Cup side.
For coach Rohan Smith and his players Saturday’s 24th-round clash against the Newtown Jets will be their first in Auckland since beating the Manly Sea Eagles on a tripleheader Sunday at Mount Smart Stadium on July 27.
In between the Vodafone Warriors have been on the road against the Mounties, Wests Tigers and Newcastle. The schedule proved exacting as they fell to three straight defeats although the loss to the Tigers was a heartbreaker.
Saturday’s clash on Mount Smart Stadium No 2 is a stand-alone fixture kicking off at 1.00pm. It’s also a great opportunity for the sporting public to watch some NRL players for free. Among those named to feature for the Vodafone Warriors are Carlos Tuimavave, Sam Lousi, Siliva Havili – named in the NRL Academic Team of the Year this week – Upu Poching, John Palavi and Agnatius Paasi.
Once again the Vodafone Warriors will be without the NRL experience provided by injured prop Charlie-Paul Gubb while NSW Cup regular Dominique Peyroux has been named on the NRL team’s extended bench for the Vodafone Warriors' 24th-round match against 2013 premiers the Sydney Roosters at Mount Smart Stadium on Sunday (2.00pm start).
Victory in two of their last three games would have had the Vodafone Warriors in the competition’s top four but now they are just inside the top eight in seventh on 27 points.
With just two rounds left in the NSW Cup’s regular season (it finishes a week earlier than the NRL), conventional wisdom suggests the Vodafone Warriors will need to win each of their last two games.
The Jets sit 10th on the table on 25 points while, in the final round, the Vodafone Warriors take on bottom-placed North Sydney.
So success against the Jets becomes critical with the Vodafone Warriors knowing their place inside the eight is at risk with Cronulla and Wyong lying in wait on 26 points.
VODAFONE WARRIORS v NEWTOWN JETS
Mount Smart Stadium No 2, Auckland
1.00pm, Saturday, August 23
1 STEVE WAETFORD (c)
2 NGATAUA HUKATAI
3 KEN MAUMALO
4 SOLOMONE KATA
5 JARROD TUA
6 CARLOS TUIMAVAVE
7 SAM COOK
8 SAM LOUSI
9 SILIVA HAVILI
10 UPU POCHING
11 RAYMOND FAITALA-MARINER
12 JOHN PALAVI
13 AGNATIUS PAASI
14 ALBERT VETE
15 MICHAEL SIO
16 ABRAHAM PAPALII
17 DAVID BHANA
COACH: ROHAN SMITH