Young middle forward Tom Ale has been the centre of attention in the camp this week as he eyes his NRL debut in the Vodafone Warriors’ 19th-round encounter with the Canberra Raiders at GIO Stadium tomorrow (2.00pm kick-off local time; 4.00pm NZT).
Rotorua Boys’ High School product Ale (21) will become Vodafone Warrior #250 when he joins the action from the interchange bench.
“The boys are really excited Tom has his chance this weekend,” said Vodafone Warriors interim head coach Todd Payten
“He’s trained really well since we’ve been here. It’s been difficult for him because he hasn’t spent a lot of time away from home before.
“There have been different times over the last two seasons when he would have thought he was a long, long way away from first grade. I’ve seen his training go to a different level as well as his application to training away from the training paddock, where he has been seeking out coaches to find out how he can get better in different parts of his game and how he and improve.
“I’ve been really excited about that and so has the rest of the group. When I let them know Tommy would be making his debut it really got a roar out of the boys and lifted the spirits.”
Ale will be the fifth Vodafone Warrior to make his NRL debut this season after Jamayne Taunoa-Brown, Eliesa Katoa, King Vuniyayawa and fellow development player Paul Turner; and he’ll be the 11th player in total to make his club debut this year following the other four rookies as well as Wayde Egan and Jack Murchie plus loan players Poasa Faamausili, Jack Hetherington, George Jennings and Daniel Alvaro.
In all it will mean 32 players have been used by the Vodafone Warriors this season.