Old boys alert at Mount Smart Stadium today

As many as 30 former Vodafone Warriors players will be out and about at Mount Smart Stadium today.

They’re all set to be involved in the annual Old Boys’ Day when the Vodafone Warriors face the Brisbane Broncos in the 40th edition of the club’s original clash on March 10, 1995.

Of the team that played that night 23 years ago, four have registered for the reunion – Whetu Taewa (Vodafone Warrior #5), current head coach Stephen Kearney (#11), Tony Tatupu (#12) and Tea Ropati (#15) – while fellow first-year players Joe Vagana (#18), Stacey Jones (#24) and Richie Blackmore (#26) are also due to attend.

A number of the old boys were at the club yesterday to join the 2018 players as they prepared for their final training session ahead of their bid to extend their record start to the season to six straight wins today.

Ali Lauitiiti (#55), former captain Monty Betham (#61) and Vagana brimmed with pride and emotion for the club and the 2018 team's performances so far as they addressed the players before watching the final field session. As well as Lauitiiti, Betham and Vagana other former players on the side-line were Awen Guttenbeil (#33), Logan Swann (#42), Jerry Seuseu (#50), Francis Meli (#65), Shontayne Hape (#80), Justin Morgan (#88), Justin Murphy (#92), Jerome Ropati (#108), Epalahame Lauaki (#110), Ruben Wiki (#123) and Ben Henry (#171) plus the 19th Vodafone Warrior Sir Peter Leitch.

Out on the field the current players honoured their past, most of them training in colours representing their football roots (captain Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, for instance, wore an Otahuhu College rugby union jersey, having played for the school's First XV in his time there).

Of the players gathering, Murphy has travelled from Toowoomba, mixing the Old Boys’ Day with a family sightseeing trip while 2006-2007 hooker George Gatis is also making the trip from Townsville for the weekend.

Several of the players attended a function at the Ellerslie Convention Centre last night where the special guest speaker was Brisbane coach Wayne Bennett. Organised by Tea Ropati, the dinner was presented by the New Zealand Universities’ and Tertiary Students’ Rugby League.

The former players will be based in the Members’ Clubrooms today and will also mix and mingle with fans in the Entertainment Precinct ahead of the Brisbane clash. They'll be introduced to the crowd and will also form a guard of honour as Tuivasa-Sheck leads his team out of the East Stand tunnel.

 

OLD BOYS’ DAY 2018

5 Whetu Taewa | 1995 | 11 games, 1 try
11 Stephen Kearney | 1995-1998 | 79 games, 11 tries
12 Tony Tatupu | 1995-1999 | 67 games, 10 tries
15 Tea Ropati | 1995-1998 | 72 games, 26 tries
18 Joe Vagana | 1995-2000 | 77 games, 9 tries
24 Stacey Jones | 1995-2005 & 2009 | 261 games, 77 tries, 176 goals, 14 field goals, 674 points
26 Richie Blackmore | 1995-1996 & 2001 | 35 games, 13 tries
33 Awen Guttenbeil | 1996-2006 | 170 games, 15 tries
35 Iva Ropati | 1996-1997 | 7 games, 3 tries
38 Bryan Henare | 1996-1999 | 22 games, 3 tries
42 Logan Swann | 1997-2003 & 2007-2008 | 195 games, 36 tries, 1 goal
48 Aaron Whittaker | 1997-1998 | 9 games, 1 try, 1 goal, 1 field goal
50 Jerry Seuseu | 1997-2004 | 132 games, 10 tries
55 Ali Lauitiiti | 1998-2004 | 115 games, 33 tries
61 Monty Betham | 1999-2005 | 101 games, 10 tries
62 Cliff Beverley | 1999-2001 | 44 games, 8 tries
64 Wairangi Koopu | 1999 & 2001-2008 | 159 games, 34 games
65 Francis Meli | 1999-2005 | 110 games, 60 tries
71 Talite Liava’a | 1999-2000 | 11 games
80 Shontayne Hape | 2000-2002 | 28 games, 7 tries
88 Justin Morgan | 2001-2002 | 28 games, 3 tries
92 Justin Murphy | 2001-2004 | 43 games, 10 tries
94 Anthony Seuseu | 2001 | 1 game
107 Tevita Leo-Latu |2003-2005 | 22 games, 3 tries
108 Jerome Ropati | 2003-2014 | 145 games, 54 tries
110 Epalahame Lauaki | 2004-2008 | 69 games, 10 tries
116 Shannon Stowers | 2004 | 2 games
117 Herewini Rangi | 2004 | 1 game
123 Ruben Wiki (2005-2008 | 87 games, 12 tries
128 George Gatis | 2006-2007 | 39 games, 6 tries
132 Wade McKinnon | 2007-2010 | 54 games, 16 tries
152 Kevin Locke | 2009-2014 | 89 games, 26 tries, 24 goals
171 Ben Henry | 2012-2016 | 52 games, 17 tries, 3 goals
19th Warrior Sir Peter Leitch