Football, fun and families will be the focus when the Vodafone Warriors and Wests Tigers meet in NRL and Intrust Super Premiership trials at Northland Events Centre in Whangarei on Saturday, March 2.
The matches will be the final warm-up outings for both clubs ahead of the 2019 season starting two weeks later.
The Vodafone Warriors’ return to Northland for the first time since 2016 is about much more than the football, though.
The club will be making numerous appearances at schools and in the community in the days leading up to the trials while an array of activities and special features are planned for game day.
Organisers have put the call out to Northlanders to turn up in big numbers for what will be a huge day for the region.
“For those who have not yet experienced NRL teams playing live, the viewing and athletic combat is second to none,” said Whangarei District Council marketing and events team leader Rachel O’Gorman.
“Additional to the excitement on the pitch, free activities on the day will include a bouncy castle and bubble station for the little ones, onsite activations from Flava FM, the New Zealand Police, Rugby League Northland and the Takahiwai Rugby League Club and free sunscreen and water for fans.
“We have tried to create an afternoon of excitement that caters for the entire family.”
At halftime in the main game, the Northland Taniwha mascot is set to take on ‘Tiki’, the Vodafone Warriors’ counterpart, in a ‘battle of the mascots’.
Rugby League Northland and the Vodafone Warriors are organising a club relay while 10 mini mod teams from local clubs will take the field at different times during the day including an all-girls round.
Fans are also invited to attend the Vodafone Warriors’ final field session at the Northland Event Centre on Friday, March 1 from 10am-12pm.
On game day, the players will be available on the field after the main game for fans to engage with. Merchandise will be on sale and a food and beverage unit will be open.
Northland Events Centre Trust chairman Alastair Wells is encouraging people to embrace the excitement and make sure they get along to Northland Events Centre to support the Vodafone Warriors.
“To encourage people to get their tickets now we have launched an exciting jersey giveaway,” he said.
“All tickets purchased up to 5pm on Tuesday, February 26, 2019 will go into the draw to win the ‘Ultimate Vodafone Warriors Prize Pack’ which includes one adult and one child 25th season Vodafone Warriors Jersey.
“It’s a fantastic event for the Northland region. The games are being held on Saturday afternoon to allow plenty of travel time for everyone in Northland to be able to attend. It would be great if we could get a good crowd along to create an electric atmosphere at Northland Events Centre”.
Vodafone Warriors head coach Stephen Kearney is committed to fielding his strongest possible squad for the March 2 trial, the final workout for the club before the NRL season opener against the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs at Mount Smart Stadium on March 16.
The Whangarei match-up offers a tantalising prospect with the potential of as many as 17 current or past Kiwis being on show along with long-time former Kiwi head coach Kearney and the man now in charge of the New Zealand team, first-year Wests Tigers head coach Michael Maguire.