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DWZ: I thought I'd only get a game here and there

Vodafone Warriors speedster Dallin Watene-Zelezniak says his first NRL game doesn’t seem that long ago.

Despite debuting for the Panthers back in 2014 and ascending to the Kiwis’ captaincy at age 23, he recalls thinking he’d play only the odd first-grade game.  

“It’s sort of surreal to be able to say I’m playing my 150th,” said Watene-Zelezniak.

“When I played my first game, I only ever thought I’d get a game here and there. So, to be playing [game] 150 this week is special for myself and my family.” 

With little time to reflect on an illustrious career, Watene-Zelezniak’s eyes are firmly set on the last three games of the season, which he says are “really important”. 

The Vodafone Warriors head into Sunday’s clash against the Broncos with a bit of momentum after winning three on the trot – something Watene-Zelezniak says he hopes to tap into. 

“It gives me a little bit extra knowing we’re a chance to make finals,” he said.

“I’ll just treat it as any other game… and yeah, I just really look forward to getting out there and playing this weekend.” 

Earlier this week, Vodafone Warriors head coach Nathan Brown praised Watene-Zelezniak for his “outstanding attitude” and experience. 

Brown explained his side was beginning to evolve into the team it needed to be and indicated Watene-Zelezniak was a critical piece of the puzzle. 

“We’re probably playing more to the strengths of the players we’ve got, and it certainly is a better way to play the game if you’ve got forwards who can pass the ball, and it’s allowing our quicker men to get a little bit more room,” said Brown. 

Apart from his speed and experience, I would say the competitiveness that comes with him is his best attribute

Nathan Brown Vodafone Warriors head coach

“We saw the try [Dallin] scored (against the Sharks). He’s certainly got plenty of speed, and that was something we identified pretty early in my time here that was an area of the game we felt we needed to get some gains in.

“Apart from his speed and experience, I would say the competitiveness that comes with him is his best attribute.” 

The Vodafone Warriors will need a good dose of competitiveness to beat a Brisbane side which has found form. While the Broncos sit near the bottom of the ladder, their recent upsurge poses a genuine threat to the Vodafone Warriors’ finals chances. 

Fans will be hoping Dallin Watene-Zelezniak can turn it on for his 150th NRL appearance.

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The New Zealand Warriors honour the mana of the Indigenous peoples of Aotearoa, Australia and the Pacific. We acknowledge the traditional kaitiaki of the lands, elders past and present, their stories, their traditions, their mamae and their mana motuhake.

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