The neighbouring Taranaki Sharks and the Manawatu Mustangs will go head-to-head in front of a big crowd at Yarrow Stadium on Saturday, May 21.

The curtain raiser between the two provincial teams will kick off an action-filled night before the first NRL game ever played in Taranaki between the Vodafone Warriors and Trans-Tasman rivals the Canberra Raiders.

"It’s a fantastic opportunity for our local rugby league heroes to play in front of a capacity audience and to be a part of a significant event in the history of Yarrow Stadium," said New Plymouth District Council venues lead Nelita Byrne.

"Securing the Vodafone Warriors has meant that, not only have fans benefited by being able to see their favourite players without leaving the region, but it also means that our local league fraternity has the opportunity to showcase their abilities and experience at a NRL delivered event."

Vodafone Warriors managing director Jim Doyle welcomed staging a contest between the neighbouring provinces as an appetiser to the main event between the Vodafone Warriors and the Raiders.

"Having Taranaki facing Manawatu will add to what is already a big occasion for the region,” he said.

"We’re presently committed to playing one NRL game each season outside Auckland so coming to Taranaki is a perfect fit, especially with Hawera’s favourite son Issac Luke joining the club.

"We’d really encourage fans from Taranaki and Manawatu to come along to support their provincial teams in the early game as well as the Vodafone Warriors."

Taranaki and Manawatu have a long-standing history. Manawatu got a close 36-32 win when the rivals met last year so Taranaki will be determined to claim victory at Yarrow Stadium on May 21.

The squads and captains for each team, led by Taranaki coach Alan Jackson and his Manawatu counterpart Matthew Cole, will be announced on Monday, May 9.

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