Fox Memorial football back at Mount Smart

Fierce rivals Point Chevalier and Mount Albert will be centre stage when Fox Memorial football returns to Mount Smart Stadium in the curtain raiser to the Vodafone Warriors’ 12th-round NRL clash against South Sydney on Saturday night.

They go head-to-head in Auckland's eighth-round SAS Fox Memorial Premiership encounter at 5.10pm (gates open at 5.00pm) in a match-up which has the strongest links with the Vodafone Warriors.

Autex Industries, which recently joined the Carlaw Heritage Trust in buying the Vodafone Warriors, has been a loyal supporter of the Pirates for many years while a number of current and former Vodafone Warriors have ties with Point Chevalier, most notably the great Stacey Jones.

And the Mount Albert club, which has produced any number of Vodafone Warriors, was the club which made the initial – and vital moves – which resulted in the creation of the original Auckland Warriors.

“It’s exciting for us having grass roots footy back at Mount Smart this weekend and we couldn’t have a better match-up than this one between two great rivals,” said Vodafone Warriors CEO Cameron George.

“We’d encourage everyone to get along early to give the Pirates and the Lions the support they deserve.”

Auckland Rugby League general manager Greg Whaiapu said it was a wonderful opportunity to promote the local game.

“It’s great to see grass roots footy being part of the match day experience at the Vodafone Warriors,” he said.

“Along with our extensive livestream coverage of matches this year, it’s another way of promoting our game to fans in Auckland and across New Zealand.

“The form of both Pt Chevalier and Mt Albert so far this year suggests it will be a thrilling battle.”

The Pirates sit on top of the ladder once again, unbeaten after seven rounds, although they were pushed all the way before beating winless Marist 20-19 on Saturday. The Lions are third with just one loss so far.

The Pirates and the Lions have consistently dominated the Auckland Rugby League’s competition in recent times.

Point Chevalier won the grand final three years straight in 2013, 2014 and 2015 and was beaten in the deciders in 2016 and 2017 while Mount Albert has won more Fox titles than any other club (16), five of them since the turn of the century (2004, 2006, 2008, 2009 and 2012).

Both clubs have numerous players associated with the Vodafone Warriors in their 2018 squads.

Point Chevalier boasts ex-Vodafone Warriors NRL players Malo Solomona, Tevita Leo-Latu and Jeremiah Pai plus a number of former or current Intrust Super Premiership or NYC players including Arden McCarthy, Abraham Papalii, Dylan Tavita, Gary Fuimaono, Chris Sio, Dylan Tavita, Francis Leger, Kane Telea, Koli Oneone, Mat Faitotoa, Francis Leger, Michael Ki, Saula Solomona, Nathan Newton, Tevin Arona and Dan Palavi.

Among Mount Albert’s 2018 players with past or present links with the Vodafone Warriors include Amoni Tufui, Eiden Ackland, Emanuel Tuimavave-Gerrard, Jarrod Tua, Kouma Samson, Mark Graham, Semisi Tyrell, Trent Bishop and Trent Wallace.