Vodafone Warriors head coach Andrew McFadden has included most of the club’s biggest names in a preliminary squad of 22 players revealed today for the second Dick Smith NRL Auckland Nines at Eden Park on January 31 and February 1.
He has confirmed Shaun Johnson will again captain the side while he has also named club captain – and Kiwi skipper – Simon Mannering – along with record-try-scoring winger Manu Vatuvei, fullback Sam Tomkins, front rower Ben Matulino and hooker Nathan Friend plus new signings Ryan Hoffman, Jonathan Wright, Bodene Thompson and Matt Allwood.
Other established NRL players selected are Ben Henry, Sione Lousi, Sebastine Ikahihifo, Ngani Laumape, Suaia Matagi, Chad Townsend and Dominique Peyroux.
Making up the balance of the squad are five of the club’s most exciting young prospects from the 2015 NYC premiership-winning Vodafone Junior Warriors – Tuimoala Lolohea, Solomone Kata, Sam Lisone, Ken Maumalo and Nathaniel Roache (Lolohea and Kata were both in the club’s 2014 NRL Nines team).
A total of 12 of the initial squad played at the 2014 Nines – Johnson, Tomkins, Lousi, Ikahihifo, Lolohea, Kata, Laumape, Matagi and Peyroux all represented the Vodafone Warriors while Hoffman captained the Melbourne side, Wright was in Cronulla’s line-up and Thompson was in the Wests Tigers squad.
Last year the Vodafone Warriors stormed through their pool matches beating Canberra 25-14, Manly 27-4 and North Queensland 28-23. They edged South Sydney 17-16 but were eliminated by the Cowboys 8-0 in the semi-finals (the Cowboys going on to win the final).
DICK SMITH NRL AUCKLAND NINES – VODAFONE WARRIORS
*SHAUN JOHNSON (c)
- Asterisk denotes players who appeared in the 2014 NRL Auckland Nines