New captain Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, Ryan Hoffman, Shaun Johnson and Solomone Kata headline a 23-man squad named today for the Vodafone Warriors’ first NRL trial against the Melbourne Storm at Sunshine Coast Stadium on Saturday (5.00pm kick-off local time; 8.00pm kick-off NZ time).
Also named are Kiwi international David Fusitu’a, front rowers Albert Vete and Charlie Gubb and wing Ken Maumalo.
As well as Hoffman and Johnson the line-up includes other 2017 NRL Nines players Tuimoala Lolohea, Blake Ayshford, Matt Allwood, Jazz Tevaga, Ata Hingano, Bunty Afoa, Mason Lino, Toafofoa Sipley, James Bell, Junior Pauga, Isaiah Papalii, Ofahiki Ogden and Lewis Soosemea.
“This trip to the Sunshine Coast is hugely significant in terms of our preparation for the NRL season,” said Vodafone Warriors head coach Stephen Kearney.
“This is what we’ve been building towards since coming into camp in early November.
“It’s a big chance for a lot of players from our Nines squad to show where they for the NRL season and it’s also important for the others selected including Roger as he comes back from missing most of last season.
“One thing we do know is that the Storm will give us a real test. They always do.”
This will be the first trial between the two sides since the Vodafone Warriors beat the Storm 24-12 in Hamilton in 2009.
Coming straight after the Downer NRL Auckland Nines, the match has added significance for Kearney as he makes his debut as Vodafone Warriors head coach against the club he made 139 NRL appearances for as well as serving as an assistant coach from 2006-2010.
It’s not the first time the Vodafone Warriors have played at Sunshine Coast Stadium; they lost a trial there 16-24 to Manly in 2008.
The Vodafone Warriors arrive on the Sunshine Coast on Friday. They train at the venue that afternoon and will also be involved in a signing session at the stadium.
Tickets for Saturday’s trial start at $20 for adults, $10 for children (under-18) and $55 for a family of four.
There is also an ultimate fan package available for $150 which includes reserved grandstand seating, pre-and-post VIP tent access and the opportunity to meet players.
Tickets can be purchased from the Sunshine Coast Stadium website www.sunshinecoaststadium.sunshinecoast.qld.gov.au
The Vodafone Warriors complete their trials programme against the Gold Coast Titans at Palmerston North’s Central Energy Trust Arena on Sunday, February 19 (2.00pm kick-off).
VODAFONE WARRIORS v MELBOURNE STORM
Sunshine Coast Stadium, Kawana Waters
5.00pm, Saturday, February 11
ROGER TUIVASA-SHECK (c)