Chanel Harris-Tavita of NZ Resident 16s in action. Rugby League match, NZ Resident 16s v Toa Samoa U16s at Toll Stadium, Whangarei, New Zealand. Saturday 1 November 2014. Photo: Anthony Au-Yeung / photosport.co.nz

Chanel Harris-Tavita has been handed a 17th birthday present he’ll never forget after being called in to debut for the Vodafone Junior Warriors in their fifth-round NYC clash against the Sydney Roosters at Central Coast Stadium in Gosford today (9.40am kick-off local time; 11.40am NZT).

With players needing to be 17 to be able to play in the competition, the highly-rated Harris-Tavita has timed it perfectly; his 17th birthday is today.

Vodafone Junior Warriors coach Kelvin Wright decided earlier in the week that the Howick Hornets junior would make his first appearance today but chose to leave the announcement until the last possible minute.

The Pakuranga College student has represented the New Zealand Residents 16s as well as the Akarana Falcons and under-15 and under-18 level.

Harris-Tavita comes in at standoff with captain Sheldon Pitama moving back to hooker.

Wright has also made some other changes as the Vodafone Junior Warriors seek their second win of the season.

Keanu Dawson is promoted from the bench to start in the front row alongside the experienced Bunty Afoa (Kenese Kenese goes to the bench) and Chris Sio, originally named at hooker, is switched to loose forward.

 

VODAFONE JUNIOR WARRIORS v SYDNEY ROOSTERS

Central Coast Stadium, Gosford

9.40am, Sunday, April 3

Referee: Adam Cassidy

 

VODAFONE JUNIOR WARRIORS

1 KANE TELEA

2 LEWIS SOOSEMEA

3 JUNIOR PAUGA

4 MELINO FINEANGANOFO

5 LEVI McBIRNEY

18 CHANEL HARRIS-TAVITA

7 ZION IOKA

8 BUNTY AFOA

6 SHELDON PITAMA (c)

17 KEANU DAWSON

11 OFAHIKI OGDEN

13 JOE VUNA

9 CHRIS SIO

Interchange:

10 KENESE KENESE

12 JOSEPH PRICE

14 TUALIMA TUALIMA

16 KOLI ONEONE

COACH | KELVIN WRIGHT