Club greats Jerome Ropati and Ruben Wiki will spearhead a Vodafone Warriors delegation on a two-day blitz meeting close to 5000 pupils at 12 schools in Rotorua on Thursday and Friday.

Ropati, just appointed as an NRL Community ambassador, and former team-mate Wiki, the NRL team’s rehab coach, will be in the Geyser City from Wednesday night for a community and promotional visit ahead of the Vodafone Warriors’ NRL trial against the Penrith Panthers at Rotorua International Stadium on Valentine’s Day (Saturday, February 14, 3.00pm kick-off).

Before romance meets rugby league, Ropati, Wiki and Vodafone Warriors community relations manager Petrece Kesha will be joined by three players from the club’s NRL squad for a series of community activities.

Split into two teams of three, the Vodafone Warriors’ advance guard will visit six schools on Thursday and another six on Friday in an intensive community initiative before the club’s NRL players and coaching staff arrive on Friday to prepare for the trial.

“Jerome and Ruben plus the three current players will be heading into the schools to give the kids a chance of getting up close and personal with the Vodafone Warriors,” said Kesha.

“They’ll also spread this year's NRL Community message about wellbeing, focusing on everything from nutrition and healthy eating to the importance of regular exercise and its effect on mental health.”

As well as visiting schools, the Vodafone Warriors will be involved in other activities including an appearance at the Rotorua Night Market on Thursday, attending the Wai-Coa-Bay Nines on Friday night (which also run on Saturday) and supporting club sponsor Wendy’s by making an in-store appearance at its Rotorua site on Fairy Springs Road.

The Vodafone Warriors’ activities in Rotorua are among the first events in the NRL’s 2015 Community Carnival; the carnival was launched in Australia last week by Olympic great Cathy Freeman and another new NRL Community ambassador Anthony Minichiello.

"This is a particularly special Community Carnival as we celebrate 15 years of the programme and we're delighted to have Catherine throw her support behind this year's wellbeing message," said head of NRL Community Adam Check.

"Community Carnival has made a tremendous contribution over the years by raising awareness of important societal issues such as bullying and social inclusion. The programme has demonstrated that the game, our ambassadors and players can impart positive messages that students and young people will observe.”

The Vodafone Warriors’ community activities in Rotorua will heighten awareness of what will be the club’s most important trial heading into the 2015 NRL season.

Head coach Andrew McFadden used an inexperienced side in Saturday night’s hit-out against the Gold Coast which had always been the plan. For the Penrith clash, though, McFadden will field the strongest squad possible in what will be the Vodafone Warriors' only NRL trial on New Zealand soil.

As they did in Toowoomba on Saturday night, the Vodafone Warriors will wear the ‘Zion’ training kit for the Rotorua trial.

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VODAFONE WARRIORS IN ROTORUA

 

THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 12

10.00am       

Ngongotaha Primary School, School Road, Ngongotaha

Western Heights School, Clayton Road, Rotorua

11.00am

Kaitaio Middle School, Bell Road, Western Heights, Rotorua

Rotorua Primary School, 1249 Arawa Street, Rotorua

2.00pm

Selwyn School, Old Quarry Road, Selwyn Heights, Rotorua

St Mary’s Primary School, 37 Carnot Street, Glenholme, Rotorua

6.00pm

Rotorua Night Market, Tutanekai Street (between Haupapa and Pukuatua Streets), Rotorua

 

FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 13

10.00am

Westbrook Primary School, 362 Malfroy Road, Rotorua

Whangamarino Primary School, State Highway 33, Okere Falls, Rotorua

11.00am

Rotorua Girls’ High School, 251 Old Taupo Road, Hillcrest, Rotorua

Rotorua Lakes High School, Porikapa Road, Owhata, Rotorua

2.00pm

Rotorua Intermediate School, Old Quarry Road, Selwyn Heights, Rotorua

Te Kura Kaupapa o Ruamata, 37 Carnot Street, Glenholme Street, Glenhome, Rotorua

5.30pm

Wai-Coa-Bay Nines Tournament (Have a Go Zone), Rotorua International Stadium

 

SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 14

10.30am

Wai-Coa-Bay Nines Tournament (Have a Go Zone), Rotorua International Stadium

12.00pm

 Wendy’s, 60 Fairy Springs Road, Rotorua

2.00pm

Meet At Risk Youth Group, Rotorua International Stadium

3.00pm

NRL Trial | Vodafone Warriors v Penrith Panthers

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