Vodafone Warriors head coach Andrew McFadden has only a few more spots to fill to complete the Vodafone Warriors’ wider NRL squad for the 2016 season.
Earlier this week the club announced seasoned current Cronulla Sharks and former Wests Tigers centre Blake Ayshford (27) had been signed for the 2016 and 2017 seasons.
Also confirmed is speedy 22-year-old Taumarunui-born fullback Henare Wells, who has been signed for one year after being with the Burleigh Bears in the Queensland Cup the last two seasons.
The Papakura Sea Eagles junior is a product of the celebrated Keebra Park State High School system. After playing in the NYC with the Sydney Roosters in 2011 and 2012 – Vodafone Warriors-bound Roger Tuivasa-Sheck was a team-mate in 2012 – he excelled for feeder club Newtown in 2013 when he was named in the New South Wales Cup team of the year. Wells finished with 21 tries, many of them spectacular, while he bagged six for Burleigh in a big win over Sunshine Coast in the Queensland Cup last year; he finished the season with 20 tries, second equal in the competition.
Wells is the fifth external signing after Tuivasa-Sheck, Issac Luke, Ligi Sao and Ayshford.
McFadden said he was close to having his full squad in place.
“We have a few spots to fill but we won’t rush into anything,” he said.
“We were in this position last year when we made two late signings in Bodene Thompson and Jonathan Wright while Albert Vete wasn’t signed until just before the season started.
“We’re pleased with the depth we have in place for next year and especially with the level of experience and the quality of our signings so far.”
Luke will join the Vodafone Warriors after 188 appearances for South Sydney while Tuivasa-Sheck has plays his 83rd match for the Sydney Roosters tonight and Ayshford has a total of 124 appearances for Wests Tigers and the Sharks.
“As well as signing players from clubs in Australia, we’ve extended contracts for a number of our best young NRL players while we have also brought some of our top NYC players into the NRL squad for next season,” said McFadden.
“We have put a lot of work into realigning the squad and bringing together a group of players we believe can take our club to the heights we expect.”
McFadden said the Vodafone Warriors’ wider NRL squad would return to training on November 2 for the pre-Christmas training block. The full squad, including players who make the Kiwis for their tour to England, is scheduled to start the run-in to the trials and the 2016 NRL season on January 4.
VODAFONE WARRIORS 2016 NRL SQUAD
Backs | Matt Allwood, Blake Ayshford, David Fusitu’a, Konrad Hurrell, Shaun Johnson, Solomone Kata, Thomas Leuluai, Mason Lino, Tuimoala Lolohea, Ken Maumalo, Marata Niukore, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, Manu Vatuvei, Henare Wells, Jonathan Wright
Forwards | Raymond Faitala-Mariner, Charlie Gubb, Ben Henry, Ryan Hoffman, Jacob Lillyman, Sam Lisone, Sione Lousi, Issac Luke, Simon Mannering, Ben Matulino, John Palavi, Upu Poching, Nathaniel Roache, Ligi Sao, Toafofoa Sipley, Bodene Thompson, Albert Vete