Warriors player Syd Eru. Warriors v Central Districts. New Zealand Warriors, Rugby League, Winfield Cup, 1995. PHOTOSPORT

Palmerston North is braced for its first visit by the Vodafone Warriors since 1995 following today’s confirmation it will host the club’s only trial on New Zealand soil ahead of the 2017 NRL campaign.

The encounter against the Gold Coast Titans has been locked in for the Central Energy Trust Arena on Sunday, February 19 (2.00pm).

The last time the club played a match in Manawatu was a trial against Central Districts at the Palmerston North Showgrounds on the original Auckland Warriors’ national tour before their debut in the competition in 1995.

The February 19 trial against the Titans will be the second of the Vodafone Warriors’ two preseason games, the other one to be played in Australia the previous weekend (the opponent and venue yet to be confirmed).

“We are excited to have the Vodafone Warriors visit Palmerston North as part of their 2017 preparations,” said John Lynch, Manager Venues and Events Palmerston North.

“Not only the rugby league community but all sports fanatics will love having some of the best players in rugby league on show when the Vodafone Warriors take on the Aquis Titans at Central Energy Trust Arena.

“This promises to be a highlight in the summer events calendar at Central Energy Trust Arena and I encourage locals and visitors to support these events when they come to our city.”

Vodafone Warriors managing director Jim Doyle said the decision to play in Palmerston North underlined the club’s commitment to take the Vodafone Warriors to the regions.

“Last season we had trials in Whangarei and Nelson as well playing a NRL home game in New Plymouth and two away games in Wellington and Christchurch,” he said.

“It’s really important to us to visit other centres because we want to do all we can to connect with members and fans throughout New Zealand.”

The Palmerston North trial will have added appeal for new Vodafone Warriors head coach Stephen Kearney, who was raised on the Kapiti Coast not too far south, while younger brother Aaron played representative rugby union for nearby Horowhenua Kapiti.

“Being our last trial before the season starts, this will be hugely important for us,” he said.

“We’ll definitely be looking to put out our best available squad to face Gold Coast and we’ll be expecting a solid performance ahead of the season starting.”

Featuring in the Vodafone Warriors’ 2017 squad are the likes of Ryan Hoffman, Simon Mannering, Manu Vatuvei, Jacob Lillyman, Issac Luke, Ben Matulino, Blake Ayshford, Bodene Thompson, Shaun Johnson, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, Solomone Kata, Tuimoala Lolohea, Sam Lisone, Albert Vete, David Fusitu’a, Jazz Tevaga, Nathaniel Roache and more.

In line to appear for Gold Coast in Palmerston North will be superstar Jarryd Hayne plus former Vodafone Warriors Konrad Hurrell and Aganatius Paasi as well as Greg Bird, Kane Elgey, Ryan James, Josh Hoffman, Chris McQueen, Nathan Peats, Zeb Taia and Ash Taylor.

 

VODAFONE WARRIORS IN PALMERSTON NORTH

Central Energy Trust Arena

Sunday, February 19

TBC | Gates open

TBC | Curtain-raiser

2.00pm | Vodafone Warriors v Gold Coast Titans