Hooker Tyler Mohi and prop-second rower Fabien Kiri are set for their NYC debuts when the Vodafone Junior Warriors face St George Illawarra in Saturday’s 22nd-round match at Westpac Stadium in Wellington (2.40pm kick-off).
Both products of the club’s development system, they’re in line to boost the club’s number of 2015 NYC debutants to 18, following on quickly from Wellingtonian Kauri Aupouri who came into the side for the first time against Cronulla last Saturday.
Aupouri is in the side again this week playing in his hometown on a day when the Te Aroha Eels, his junior club, are also on show at Westpac Stadium taking on the Wainuiomata Lions in the Wellington Rugby League’s grand final (12.30pm kick-off).
Kiri won’t want for support either. Originally from Auckland, the Papatoetoe Panthers junior moved to Palmerston North with his family where he plays rugby union for the Palmerston North Boys’ High School First XV and rugby league for the Kia Ora club in the Manawatu competition. He has represented the Central Vipers at under-15 and under-17 level as well as the New Zealand 16s and 18s.
Signed by the Vodafone Warriors as a 15-year-old in 2013, he doesn’t turn 18 until November. He has stayed in Palmerston North to complete his secondary school education while at the same time excelling for the school’s First XV. A 188cm, 110kg No 8 in union, he’s a prolific try-scorer for Palmerston North Boys’ High School but plays prop or second row in rugby league.
Mangere East Hawks junior Mohi has recovered from serious health issues this year to make a belated return to the field. In fact he resumed playing only recently and quickly made his mark with the Hawks in the Fox Memorial premiership leading to his NYC call-up this week.
Educated at Aorere College, he was in the New Zealand Secondary Schools side which faced New South Wales Combined High Schools last year.
The Vodafone Junior Warriors will be hoping their home away from home in Wellington will help them break a run of six consecutive home defeats this weekend. Their last win at Mount Smart Stadium was on Anzac Day but their form on the road has kept them within touch of the top four.
Despite a 20-22 loss to Cronulla last week they’re sixth on 23 points with the Sydney Roosters and the Canberra Raiders ahead in fourth and fifth on 24 points.
While the Dragons are well down the ladder in 15th place they’re won three of their last four games.
VODAFONE JUNIOR WARRIORS v ST GEORGE ILLAWARRA
Westpac Stadium, Wellington
2.40pm, Saturday, August 08
Referees: Ziggy Przeklasa-Adamski and Shane Rehm
VODAFONE JUNIOR WARRIORS
1 TOMAS AOAKE
2 LEVI McBIRNEY
3 JUNIOR PAUGA
4 SEMISI TYRELL
5 PAUL ULBERG
6 BRAD ABBEY
7 KAURI AUPOURI
8 BUNTY AFOA
9 ERIN CLARK
10 PAUL TULI
11 OFAHIKI OGDEN
12 MATIU LOVE-HENRY
13 JAZZ TEVAGA
14 TYLER MOHI
15 JOSEPH PRICE
16 TUALIMA TUALIMA
17 FABIEN KIRI
18 CASEY LAFAELE
COACH: KELVIN WRIGHT