The Vodafone Warriors’ partnership with the New Zealand Rugby League is in focus again this week at the NZRL National Youth Tournament in Rotorua.
The schedule features not only the national under-15 and under-17 age group championships but also two matches pitting the New Zealand Residents 18s against the Taurahere Kiwis, a side made up of New Zealand-eligible players from New South Wales.
A number of players contracted to the Vodafone Warriors are included in the New Zealand squad. Among them are Erin Clark, Mattais Heimuli, Christian Mika, Fabien Paletua-Kiri, Joseph Price, Tiaan Wilkins and Eddie Wulf. Also named in the original squad were the now-unavailable Ata Hingano and Ofahiki Ogden, both members of the Vodafone Junior Warriors’ side which has reached the NYC grand final (Hingano was a late replacement at standoff for the 29-26 win over Parramatta on Saturday night while Ogden was 18th man).
Mount Albert Grammar School student Heimuli and Price made their NYC debuts this season while Mika made an appearance for the Vodafone Warriors in the New South Wales Cup.
The first of the clashes between the Residents and Taurahere Kiwis kicks off at Puketawhero Park at 12.45pm today with the second match starting at 12.15pm on Friday.
The Vodafone Warriors recently became the official partner of the NZRL youth development programme, signalling their shared desire to promote home-grown players into professional and international careers.
The agreement involves the club playing a leading role at the NZRL National Secondary Schools Tournament (held earlier this month) and this week’s 'Got a Trade' NZRL National Youth Tournament.
The Vodafone Warriors are awarding under-15 and under-17 player of the tournament awards. The winners will receive a signed Vodafone Junior Warriors jersey signed by the 2014 NYC grand final side and a Vodafone Warriors prize pack.
The squads originally named for the matches between the New Zealand Residents 18s and the Taurahere Kiwis were:
TAURAHERE KIWIS | Sione Afemui (Canberra Raiders), Harry Barsdell (South Sydney Rabbitohs), Harlan Collins (Manly Sea Eagles), Chevy Ellis (Sydney Roosters), Poasa Fa'amausil (Sydney Roosters), Faitatoa Faitatoa (Newcastle Knights), Kalani Going (Canberra Raiders), James Fisher-Harris (Penrith Panthers), Haimona Hiroti (South Sydney Rabbitohs), Jamayne Isaako (Cronulla Sharks), Paora Kemp (Illawarra Steelers), Daniel Lillicoat (Cronulla Sharks), Joseph Manu (Sydney Roosters), Moses Mc Greal (Manly Sea Eagles), Marcel Owen (Wests Tigers), Sifa Talakai (South Sydney Rabbitohs), Johnathan Tufuga (South Sydney Rabbitohs), Netana Vi (St George Illawarra Dragons), Jack Williams (Canberra Raiders).
NEW ZEALAND RESIDENTS 18s | Joseph Apikotoa (Wellington/Randwick), Erin Clark (Akarana/Pt Chevalier), Mattais Heimuli (Akarana/Glenora), Mafoa'aeata Hingano (Counties Manukau/Pakuranga), Jamel Hunt (Counties Manukau/Otahuhu), Zion Ioka (Akarana/Glenora), Nick Lui-Toso (Akarana/Glenora), Dre Melvin (Wellington/Porirua), Christian Mika (Counties Manukau/Otahuhu), Tyler Mohi (Counties Manukau/Mangere East), Ofahiki Ogden (Counties Manukau/Mangere East), Fabien Paletua-Kiri (Mid Central/Kia Ora), Reuben Porter (Akarana/Te Atatu), Joseph Price (Counties Manukau/Mangere East), Ken Tofilau (South Island/Halswell), Fuaimamao Uta (Akarana/Northcote), Tiaan Wilkins (Counties Manukau/Mangere East), Eddie Wulf (Akarana/Marist), Logan Yates (Akarana/Pakuranga).