The Vodafone Warriors will have strong representation when the New Zealand Residents 16s go head-to-head with the Toa Samoa Residents 16s at Puketawhero Park in Rotorua tonight (6.00pm kick-off).
In all, 14 Vodafone Warriors academy players are taking the field across the two sides including New Zealand captain Quinnlan Tupou (Otahuhu Leoprads/Botany Downs College) and vice-captain Vailingi Kepu (Manurewa Marlins/Aorere College).
Tupou joined the academy as a 14-year-old while Vailingi and his twin brother Otukinekina have developed into two of the leading front rowers in the space of 12 months with the squad.
The Toa Samoa Residents’ forward pack includes Vodafone Warriors academy players such as Tray Lolesio (Otahuhu Leopards) and Caleb Savelio-Thompson (Te Atatu Roosters) who will be key in helping to match the New Zealand forward pack.
“We are all very proud of the boys lining up for both nations,” said Vodafone Warriors general manager football Brian Smith.
“It’s a great honour to represent your country so it will be a special experience for all of these players.
“The club has a renewed focus to identify, retain and develop young local talent and these boys and others already identified are just the start of that journey.”
Talented youth players (14-17 years of age) train with the Vodafone Warriors academy during the year under the tutelage of a very experienced staff which includes former Vodafone Junior Warriors coach Kelvin Wright while the operation is overseen by Vodafone Warriors development coordinator Jordan Friend.
”Our key focus is having players come into the environment and thriving,” said Friend.
“It’s no coincidence that those selected have all strongly engaged in the programme. Their selection is a reward for the effort of players, family and our staff.
“It also provides inspiration for future prospective academy members who get the opportunity.”
- Catch a live stream of the game on the NZRL Facebook page.
NEW ZEALAND RESIDENT 16s v TOA SAMOA RESIDENTS 16s
6.00pm, Thursday, July 12
Puketawhero Park, Rotorua
2018 New Zealand Residents 16s | Akarana: Asolelei Fretton, Lani Graham-Taufa, Lleyton Finau, Luani Tavake Naufahu Whyte, Samuel McIntyre, TJ Devery, Moala Graham-Taufa. Counties Manukau: Quinnlan Tupou, Sione Moala, Mase Carson, Jarney Proctor-Harwood, Jeremiah Margraff, Otukinekina Kepu, Taniela Otukolo, Valingi Kepu. Bay of Plenty (Upper Central Zone): Dayna Bidois, Legacy Katene. Wellington: Blaine Betham-Taape.
Head coach: Bejay Hewitt.
Assistant coaches: Chris Langley, Eugene Davis.
Manager: Wayne Boyes.
Trainer: Sean Witanga.
2018 Toa Samoa Residents 16s | Seeti Brown Kuresa (Pt Chevalier), Junior Fausia (Waitemata), Benjamin Pulou Kosi (Manurewa), Tolo Saumamoa Watts (Marist), Petelo Kepaoa (Manurewa), Joshua Setefano (Otahuhu), Sefa Roache Faimalo (Marist), Presley Leota Sa'u (Otahuhu), Zedric Timai (Manurewa), Peniamina Fepuleai (Marist), Jeff Tatupu Leilua (Otahuhu), Etuate Laui Ieremia (Marist), Tray Lucky Lolesio (Otahuhu) , Christian Pese (Ellerslie), Lawrence Lemalu (Marist), Isaac Matalavea-Booth (Manurewa), Caleb Savelio Thompson (Te Atatu), Ilai Tuia (Randwick), Evander Tere-Rongotaua (Porirua).
Head coach: Simon Ieremia.
Assistant coach: Leroy Faavesi.
Team manager: Rodney Faavae Hall.
Game manager: Varoma Vano.
Medics: Kevin Bell/Aron Innes.
Trainer: Hamana Amoamo.
Operations: Frank Sefo Fuimaonor.