The traditional offseason grind kicks off with a new look and feel tomorrow heralding the countdown proper to the Vodafone Warriors’ landmark 20th anniversary campaign in 2015.
March 10 next year will mark 20 years to the day since the Vodafone Warriors launched their existence with their first match against Brisbane at what was then known as Ericsson Stadium.
If the campaign is extra-special for the club overall it’s equally so for head coach Andrew ‘Cappy’ McFadden as he begins his first full season in control after taking over the role in trying circumstances after five rounds of the 2014 NRL campaign.
Alongside him will be one his new assistant coaches Andrew Webster from Wests Tigers while his other newly appointed assistant Tony Iro has commitments with the Kiwis in the Four Nations tournament before returning to the club.
One of the new player signings – ex-Canberra centre-winger Matt Allwood – begins life as a Vodafone Warrior tomorrow but fellow recruits Ryan Hoffman and the just-announced Bodene Thompson are still on Four Nations duty with the Kangaroos and the Kiwis respectively and won’t join the squad for several weeks yet.
Other players also committed to the Four Nations are Kiwis Simon Mannering, Manu Vatuvei, Thomas Leuluai, Shaun Johnson, Suaia Matagi and Siliva Havili plus England’s Sam Tomkins and Toa Samoa’s Dominique Peyroux.
Veteran prop Jacob Lillyman is set to have another two weeks off before resuming training on November 17.
Konrad Hurrell (wrist), Ben Henry (knee), Glen Fisiiahi (shoulder), Ben Matulino (knee), Charlie Gubb (leg) and David Fusitu’a (shoulder) are either coming off surgery or have been rehabbing injuries. Hurrell had surgery just last Thursday on his scaphoid.
The pre-Christmas offseason schedule begins tomorrow with field and gym sessions and more of the same on Tuesday. After a rest day on Wednesday, the players will be at work again on Thursday and Friday followed by an early morning session at Auckland Domain on Saturday.
The squad of players involved this week is: Brad Abbey, Matt Allwood, David Bhana, Raymond Faitala-Mariner, Glen Fisiiahi, Nathan Friend, David Fusitu’a, Charlie Gubb, Ben Henry, Konrad Hurrell, Sebastine Ikahihifo, Solomone Kata, Ngani Laumape, Sam Lisone, Tuimoala Lolohea, Sione Lousi, Ben Matulino, Ken Maumalo, Dane Nielsen, John Palavi, Sam Rapira, Chad Townsend.
Others involved will include Sam Cook, Viliami Kaveinga and Albert Vete. Also joining the group on November 10 will be Vodafone Junior Warriors co-captain Mason Lino who was due to join Carcassonne in France but has since had a shoulder operation.